When I was a little girl I was fascinated by flower fairies. These magical creatures were first introduced to me through the books of Cecily Barker and soon became a central part of how I viewed the natural world. It was through them that I learned the names of many flowers and wild plants, and their habits and folklore — a knowledge that serves me well in my adult life. I spent long sunny days playing with them in the garden, building them gardens and houses. On rainy days I would dress as a fairy and filled my drawing books with them.
Later when the era of disbelief began to beckon we watched a documentary at school about two Victorian-era girls who had created an elaborate hoax, claiming to have photographed fairies. I truly wished that they really had. It made me wish once again that they were true.
The sweet fairy folk fed my sense of awe and wonder at the beauty of the natural world and my desire for the reality of the magical in everyday life. But it’s just not the done thing to be 15, or 25 and into fairies. So I left them to one side. But I didn’t ever stop loving them.
The wheel has turned full circle and I am now the mother of two little girls and I am in turn bringing fairies alive for them. We read the Flower Fairy books together, we dance like them and make gardens for them. Much to my delight my six-year-old son is quietly enthusiastic about our fairy passion too!
I have made a variety of seasonal flower fairies for our nature table. My project for this year is a fairy house in our new garden, out of fallen logs, bark and moss, and equipped with little fairy furniture, for all sorts of imaginary games outdoors.
We look through David Ellwand’s breathtaking Fairie-ality books, at my children’s request, on a regular basis. His stunningly creative fairy clothes made of feathers, petals, and seashells help us to change perspective. Seeing the world from a fairy’s-eye-view allows us to see that an ant could be as big as a horse, or that a petal could be a bed, a blade of grass a swing, a berry as big as an apple, a dandelion seed a parachute. We see possibility where mundanity and greyness can live – and witness nature once again in its true miraculousness.
My children, like me, know that the fairy folk are fantastical rather than real. But they love them all the same. I am sure some people are sceptical of the “cuteifying” of nature, and the human desire to anthropomorphise it. But I have found that the addition of fairies adds an element of beauty, magic and mystery. Fairies are a wonderful way to engage children physically and aesthetically with the story of flowers and plants, to warn of dangers and tell of benefits. I believe that ascribing a living spirit to them which the children can visualise and empathise with gives a greater respect and appreciation for nature.
Some Simple Ways We Celebrate Fairies
Having a fairy tea party outside with lots of flowers and tiny food: iced gems, chocolate buttons, fairy sandwiches (tiny sandwiches cut out with a shaped cutter, spread with butter and sprinkled with coloured sugar sprinkles), cupcakes adorned with crystalised flower petals, and a pot of fresh flower tea or rose petal lemonade to drink.
We make flower garlands by stringing blossoms, using a needle and thread, or making simple daisy chains. We leave them hanging on trees when we have finished wearing them ourselves, for the fairies to play with.
Fairy gardens and houses are a wonderful on-going project for the whole family. A simple fairy garden can be made in a large flower pot, decorated with moss, sand, flowers and branches. There are some incredibly inventive fairy houses online – these are some of my favourite.
A wonderful array of resources at Flower Fairies.
Our Favourite Flower Fairy Books
The Complete Book of the Flower Fairies by Cicely Mary Barker
Fairie-ality: The Fashion Collection from the House of Ellwand by David Ellwand, David Downton and Eugenie Bird
Fairie-ality Style: A Sourcebook of Inspirations from Nature by David Ellwand
Fairy Houses of the Maine Coast by Maureen Heffernan
The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus by L. Frank Baum and Charles Santore
Story of the Root Children by Sibylle Olfers
Dance Like the Flower Fairies (DVD) (UK)
Lucy Pearce is full-time mama to three little ones. She is also a free-spirited freelance writer and contributing editor at JUNO magazine. She recently launched her first book Moon Time: a guide to celebrating your menstrual cycle, Signed copies available direct from her where you will find a wonderful selection of women’s resources. She blogs on creativity, mamahood and mindful living at Dreaming aloud.
Rhythm of the Home is an online magazine for families that focuses on creating with children, nature explorations, seasonal celebrations, conscious parenting, and mindfulness in all that we do.