Fairies Part Three

Welcome to the third installment of this series of posts about the fairies, their likes and dislikes, and their big shindig coming up June 20, midsummer night’s eve, the night before the longest day of the year. The garden has been growing along well, with steady temperatures, some rain, and the best fertilizer of all, the gardener’s breath. Each plant gets inspected every day. We want to stay on top of any problems should they arise, with action swift and sure. A new weed? Whisk! It’s out of here. A slug nibbling on the flower? Flick! Off you go into the wild blue yonder. Still doing research, there is really a lot of info out there in internetland, the one plant mentioned as a favorite of the fairies more than any other is foxglove, digitalis. Digitalis is from latin meaning finger of a glove. The name foxglove is a corruption of the term folk’s glove, meaning the wee folk, one of the many monikers given to the fairies over the ages. Shown above, the perennial type of this plant, digitalis mertonensis.
This plant is the result of a cross between the biennial d. purpurea and the perennial d. grandiflora. The common name is strawberry foxglove, as the flowers are always this rose pink with a buff overcast. Although perennial, it is often short lived, but can be easily grown from seed. The fairy lore mentions dancing, sleeping and the wearing of the flowers as hats, skirts and shirts. Some of the fashion forward fairies apply embroidery stitched with spider webbing to personalize their attire, especially using monograms of twirling initials.

Our little merry metal fairy sculture is sitting pretty in the gazebo. We have weeded it and swept the leaves, bark bits and little stones that always arise from the soil. It has been watered regularly and maintains that nice verdant color. Looks like we need to add a little topsoil to even it out before the big affair, we want no tripping or toe stubbing. An unhappy fairy can be a scary thing, we have heard.

In the area next to the gazebo that was a fire pit during the winter, we have placed one of our home made bowls with some flower scented water for a cooling dip on these hot muggy days. This may also attract some birds or butterflies looking for a thirst quenching sip. We will make sure that the water is changed frequently to discourage unwanted insect discovery.

When we think of how to please the little wee ones, we think of the softest, smallest plants. This
wooly yarrow, Achillea tomentosa , fits the bill to a tee. Low growing and evergreen, this silver beauty offers bright yellow flowers in late spring. But the main appeal lies in the fuzzy leaves, densely matted and as soft as eiderdown. The fairies can take a nap, watch the clouds, or snuggle with their fairy children with a good story book before turning in.

Many varieties of moss grow naturally on the property here. Whatever conditions are necessary for mucho moss, we have it. One of the Stepables,
leptinella, was added to the moss in the beginning of the garden making, just for some diversity. As you can see by clicking on the above photo, the moss itself is already diverse, but the ferny leaves of the leptinella, black and green leaf varieties were both planted, add another dimension to the area we call the wildflower garden.

We have another type of mossy groundcover,
gold spikemoss, Selaginella kraussiana. It has been planted in the garden several times without success. It now is grown in a planter that winters over in the greenhouse/sunroom and is thriving. The fairies don’t mind container gardens to frolic in, some of them even prefer the enclosure they provide.

Indian pinks, Spigelia marilandica, were a gift from ‘Claude, Da Mailman’, as our mail carrier signs his notes that are left with the plants he leaves occasionally on our doorstep. We are quite lucky to have struck up a conversation with him about gardening, something that happens whenever we are out in the front garden working. We learned he is an avid plantsman and hopes to really devote himself to his garden when he retires in a couple of years. He lives on acreage with woods and has given us several choice items. We have tried to give him quality plants also, I forget whose turn it is to gift, probably mine. This plant has flowers that are tubular in shape and about 2 inches long, Though called Indian Pink, they are bright scarlet on the outside. The scarlet opens up at the tip into a star-shape revealing a glowing yellow on the inside. This is among the favorites of the hummingbirds, and also their pals, the fairies.

In the garden, plants sprout in mysterious ways. This and other willow seedlings keep appearing in the garden even though we do not have a willow tree planted here. We did have two curly willows, which have been cut down due to a size issue, maybe the babies are related to them. We also have dappled willow, but these young tree seedling look nothing like them.
The Willow has always been known as a tree of dreaming, inspiration and enchantment. It was associated in Celtic legend with poets and spells of fascination and binding. The wind in the willows is the whisperings of a fairy in the ear of a poet. Are you reading this, offspring poets? Get thee to a willow tree! Sharing the soil with the seedling tree is a Korean tassel fern, Polystichum polyblepharum. Fern “seeds” are said to render one invisible if gathered on Midsummer’s Eve. This may be something we will need if we are to see the fairies on this magical night.

This is my favorite rock. It is about the size of honeydew melon, flattened. It is full of holes. It has been written that if you can find a rock with a hole all the way through it, and look into that hole, you will be able to see fairies. We have been searching the rocks on the property and this is the best shot we have at the moment. When we go on vacation in about a week, we will continue the hunt. Beach rocks are notoriously holey.

Shown above is the winner of the most charming common name of the wildflowers growing here that came with the property.
Venus’ looking glass, Triodanis perfoliata also known as Clasping Venus’ Looking-glass, formerly known as Specularia perfoliata. After exhaustive research it was learned that specularia means ‘mirror like’. After even more exhaustive research it was learned that the part of this plant that even remotely resembles a mirror are the seeds,they are slightly shiny. We believe that the fairies think themselves beautiful, and rightly so. A stem full of tiny mirrors seems appropriate for the admiration of the pointy ears so highly prized as a physical attribute by these magical beings.

A natural tussey mussey of dark reddish pink sweet william, dianthus barbatus will finish off this section of fairy mania. We will continue writing about the fae until the eve of the summer solstice has passed, along with other topics of seasonal interest.
For Fairies Part One click here, Part Two, click

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40 Responses to Fairies Part Three

  1. Jan says:

    I have loved your fairy postings. They have been informative and entertaining. Inspires me to spruce up areas of my garden the fairies may be attracted to. Looking forward to Midsummer’s Eve.

    Always Growing

  2. Frances, says:

    Hi Jan, thanks for stopping by. Glad to inspire the attracting of fairies in your garden, they are a source of amusement and delight.

  3. Gail says:


    This series is utterly charming; and be assured the fairies will be happy to have been so well taken care of by a wise and gentle gardener.

    I am still smiling over the Claude, da Mailman moniker, too funny and sweet.

    Q: Do you start the digitalis seeds in the garden or in pots?

    Thanks Frances for the early morning smile.


  4. Rose says:

    I love these fairy posts! I just read Part II as well, since I missed that one on Wednesday. Your knowledge of fairy lore is impressive; I didn’t know about the wind in the willows reference.
    You have so many lovely flowers in your gardens; the fairies might decide to hold their annual convention here!

  5. nina says:

    I love the mosses in your garden
    It looks so rich and moist!

    And your flowers are lovely!

    Nina at Nature Remains

  6. Dave says:

    It appears that you have a created a fairy preserve! I like that homemade bowl you put in. Have you done a post on how you made them or is one coming up? That moss in your gazebo picture looks like a carpet. I’m sure you fairies will forgive a stubbed toe every now and then for a habitat like you have provided them.

  7. Frances, says:

    Hi Gail, thanks loads. Our mailman is a gem, he takes good care of us and our mail, a very good thing. I start the foxgloves seeds many ways. They are fun to start inside late winter, and the browned seed heads get laid about in the garden also. I am going to try some of the mertonensis ones in pots, I didn’t even realize we had them until they bloomed. We had bought some called strawberry foxgloves, but they didn’t do much for a couple of years, they were moved this year to ferngully and bloomed in that lovely soil.

    Hi Rose, hey fairies, if you hold your convention here, we will offer tax incentives, (can’t help the accountant in me) ;->. I am learning many new things with all this research, very enjoyable. Thanks for visiting, glad you enjoyed it.

    Hi Nina, thanks for stopping by. We admit to watering the mossy spots by the gazebo, for the special occasion coming up. After that, they may dry up a bit, until the rains return in fall and winter.

    Hi Dave, thanks. The bowl has been shown before, in the blue series of posts back in December, I think. It is made from the leaf casting mix, we had some left over last summer when we were making leaves. Google the leaf casting instructions, they are very easy. We made a pile of damp sand for the shape, instead of putting a leaf on that, we put the mix on saran wrap. So fun, give it a try!

  8. Nan Ondra says:

    My goodness, Frances, I wonder if your fairies know how lucky they are. I wish some of them would be willing to relocate to PA; I could really use their help in growing foxgloves like yours. But if I were them, I wouldn’t leave your garden either!

  9. Jean says:

    It is hard to think of a post being any better than these 3, but, if I were a betting person, I’d have to bet there will be!! I also love the homemade bowl and will sure have to check that site out.Thanks.

  10. Frances, says:

    Hi Nan, word in the woods has it that there are lots of fairies in PA, they are original settler spirits and are fond of history. Thanks for the kind words, I am interested in seeing what you have been working on. ;->

    Hi Jean, such a sweet thing to say, many thanks. Do try making leaf castings and bowls, it was easy and lots of fun.

  11. tina says:

    I tell you I learn so much from you! I have tried seligenilla and glad to hear it was not me! The Pinks are a plant I just saw last night. The gardeners thought it was bee balm because of the square stem. I told them no way-now I know what it is! It is beautiful and the fairies are very happy in your garden. Hope you find one at the beach.

  12. Frances, says:

    Hi Tina, thanks. Glad you were looking for the name of the pinks. Love that mailman! There are some projects on my agenda for the beach, besides relaxing of course, but it is hard to relax with twelve other people in the house with you! Anyway, all will be put on the search for rocks with holes all the way through. The kids will love it.

  13. semi says:

    I think this is my favorite group of posts on your blog. I want to be a fairy in the faire garden. The gazebo area is so inviting and lush. Counting down to beach madness!!!! love semi.

  14. brokenbeat says:

    i will be on the hunt for weeping willow seedlings. word is they make a good bonsai. how about that image of poetic inpiration? sitting next to the pond at dusk musing over life while the fairies whisper in the wise bonsai willow’s leaves which shine silver in the magnifying moonlight. your learned advice is well received and i thank you.

  15. Cinj says:

    What a wonderful place for the fairies to frolic. They’ll be estatic with all of your preparation!

  16. Frances, says:

    Hi Semi, yes, the countdown is on. The fairy posts are a lot of fun to do, and the knowledge bank if building as the research takes us to new sites. I think of you as a fairy in the garden already. ;-> love.

    Hi Brokenbeat, bonsai would be perfect, since the room a mature weeping willow takes up is enormous. Yes, the pond and the whispers could lead you to pleasant places. love.

    Hi Cinj, thanks for those supportive words. We have been expending a lot of energy on this part of the garden, it is looking good too. We shall see what fairy magic has been wrought after our vacation coming up next weekend.

  17. Nancy J. Bond says:

    I would dearly love to be in your garden on the eve of June 20 — be sure to report any sightings!

  18. Mr. McGregor's Daughter says:

    Spigelia is one of those wildflowers I’ve been meaning to get, but I haven’t come across it at any of the local nurseries. I’m hoping they’ll have it at the native plant sale next year.
    Your Foxglove looks very happy. They are such beautiful flowers & bring back such memories for me.

  19. Frances, says:

    Hi Nancy J., thanks. That should be quite a night, hope I can stay awake, being a very early to bed, etc. kind of gal.

    Hi MMD, If there are seeds from the spigelia I will send you some. I have never looked before. This plant is having its best year in the three we have had it. It is getting much more water, being in the fairy area by ferngully. Last year it didn’t bloom at all, that late freeze and drought, lots of flowers this year. Glad to bring back foxglove memories, what are they?

  20. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I have so enjoyed your fairy posts Frances. I do believe there is a fairy in my garden with a bird on its toe. I will see if I can get a picture of it. Maybe I can if I shoot through a rock that has a hole in it.

    A friend of mine is very lucky in finding this kind of rock in streams. Maybe if you find a stream you will find the proper rock so you can see all the fairies in your garden.

  21. DP Nguyen says:

    I have to say the strawberry foxglove is so gorgeous to look at. I love how you’ve captured the rain drops in the close-up picture.

    If I was a fairy, I’d live in pure happiness in your garden. It’s just perfect for the little creature.

  22. joey says:

    Thank you, Frances, for another lovely tour. The fairies are most lucky to be welcomed so lovingly.

  23. Kylee says:

    My goodness, Frances, you have some lovely fairy things there. I must be a fairy because I love them, too. The Indian Pinks! Must get some!

    I’ve tried to grow D. mertonensis several times and not only does it not winter over, it won’t bloom for me either. And I’ve tried different locations each time. My mom has had the same results. 😦

    Beautiful, beautiful photographs, as usual!

  24. Frances, says:

    Hi Lisa, thanks. Now there is hope that the rock with a hole can be found, since your friend has one. We will scour the areas! I will wait to see your bird toe fairy, very appropriate for the bird paradise at your place.

    Thanks, DP. We are thrilled that this foxglove is even blooming, they are more difficult to grow than the biennials. Glad to hear your fairy alter ego would enjoy our efforts at providing a comfortable habitat.

    Hi Kylee, thanks. About the d. mertonensis, my daughter semi and I both bought ours at the same time in Knoxville several years ago. They have never bloomed and even looked dead. I moved mine to the ferngully site with the amazing rotted wood soil and suddenly it looks great and even flowers. I have been giving it extra water since working on sprucing up that general area. It might be a combination of the soil and water. Seeds will be saved to see if we can get more to grow as well.

  25. Frances, says:

    Hi Joey, sorry your reply is out of order, it happens sometimes. ;-> Thank you so much for stopping by and the kind words. We love having the fairy garden and learning all the new fairy lore, so fun.

  26. Crafty Gardener says:

    It has been so interesting reading about the fairies and your gardens. You have so many welcoming spots for the fairies to frolic and have fun. I’m sure they are looking forward to June 20 as much as you are. It will be a magical place that night.

  27. Anonymous says:

    That last pic of the dianthus was breathtaking.

    Don’t forget to have some herbal remedies for the “afterparty” grumpies. I know I don’t want my fae folk coming back home all grouchy.

    I know my Country View fairies and the like are coming because…

    I overheard the whispers yesterday as I was sneaking a photo of the fungi they had congregated around; Faire Garden is where all are going that consider themselves truly magical.

    Much Love, CP

  28. Blackswamp_Girl says:

    The fairy postings have been wonderful. I have a rock with a hole through it, and I will have to look deep inside to see if there are indeed any fairies there.

    By the way, I really covet your Indian pinks. I almost bought some (maybe from High Country Gardens?) last year, they are so pretty and cheerful. I have some leptinella as well, so it’s nice to see that it coexists okay with the moss. I had wanted to do both between my stepping stones under the grape arbor, but was afraid that one would outdo the other!

  29. Frances, says:

    Hi Crafty, thanks for the kind words and visiting. We hope the big night meets or exceeds expectations!

    Hi Chickenpoet, thanks for the heads up about the Country View fairy contingent. I will have to do yet more research about fairy party herbal remedies. Many herbs are growing here, so we should be able to put something together. Congratulations on the eavesdropping, way to join in the fun. love.

    Hi Kim, it was been several years since the many mosses and leptinella have coexisted, both are doing well, kind of mixing in together. I like the look, it would look good in your stone path. I have been very happy with the spigelia, this is by far its best blooming year, just like everything else in the garden. And you have a rock with a hole all the way through? There is hope that such a thing exists, hooray. Lucky you, be sure and lay in a bed of thyme on June 20 night to do your looking!

  30. Karen Hall says:

    I have enjoyed the three tours of your garden from the fairy point of view. They are very lucky fairies indeed to have their every need catered for, I expect they will be having a very big party there on Midsummers Eve.
    An Artists Garden

  31. Frances, says:

    Hi Karen, thanks for visiting, glad you enjoyed our preparations for midsummer night’s eve for the fae. We will be doing a couple of posts next week before our big beach vacation for a week, then it’s serious fairy welcoming!

  32. Blackswamp_Girl says:

    I came back to see if you’d had time to answer about the moss and the leptinella… so thank you! And I’ve put a note on June 20th. I do indeed have a bed of thyme (or two) so I will let you know what I discover. 😉

  33. Ewa says:

    Your fairy posts are sweet 🙂 digitalis is one of my favourite plants although biennal – the only one I have.
    Gardening for fairies gives a totally new perspective, actually ‘wee’ perspective to garden.

  34. Frances, says:

    Hi Kim, you are very welcome. What fun it would be if many of us are on the lookout for fairies on that special night. Thanks for playing along!

    Hi Ewa, I bet there are many fairies in your neck of the woods, your garden is very full of magic. Thanks for the kind words.

  35. chuck b. says:

    Maybe the fairies can see their reflections in the Triodanus flowers where we cannot.

    How nice to have a gardening relationship with the mailman. Alas, that isn’t what I talk about with mine. Have you been to his garden?

  36. Frances, says:

    Hi Chuck, thanks for visiting. We have lots of the Venus’ looking glass, we let it grow where it wanted after the name was found to be so charming. It is fairly mild mannered too. I have not been to Claude’s garden, we just speak when I am out front when we drives by. I usually come to get the mail from the back garden as I can hear the truck as he comes down the hill to our house. I don’t know where he lives, but gather it is not in town, but out in the county.

  37. garden girl says:

    Frances, your fairy posts are simply charming, as are all the wonderful plants and other accoutrements you suggest for attracting them!

  38. Frances, says:

    Hi Linda, thanks. We have been having lots of fun with it, and will get serious about it when we come back from our vacation.

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