What are flower fairies?
Associated with the paintings of English illustrator Cicely Mary Barker, flower fairy art and gardens are very popular today.
Cicely Mary Barker published her first Flower Fairies book in 1923; she received £25 for Flower Fairies of the Spring, a collection of twenty-four paintings and illustrations. The books enjoyed huge popularity due to Queen Mary’s well-known interest in fairy art.
Unable to attend school as a child because of her epilepsy, she was home-schooled and spent much of her time drawing and painting. Her artwork was influenced by illustrator Kate Greenaway and even more so by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, and she developed her talent as a member of the Croydon Art Society. Her flower fairy paintings, in particular, were driven by the Victorian popularity of fairies and fairy stories.
She later published seven more volumes of Flower Fairies. Following the publication of Cicely Mary Barker’s original Flower Fairy paintings and verses, two series of fairy stories featuring original Flower Fairies characters, Flower Fairies Friends and, more recently, Secret Stories, also have been published.
The painting are notable in particular because of the sweet, realistic depiction of the children, modeled on children enrolled in her sister Dorothy’s kindergarten.
She has been compared to Beatrix Potter in the botanical accuracy of the plants and flowers amidst which the fairies dwell.
For centuries, people have been fascinated by the mystifying legend of fairies, of so-called “wee folk” who can be kind to us humans or be mean and mischievous. Firm evidence of their existence is, of course, hard to come by!
No matter what kind of fairy is your favorite, when you fall in love with them you are forever inside another world. Some might call it a fantasy world, but believers know better. Gardens do better when fairies dwell there.
The creation of fairy gardens is very popular today. These are miniature gardens within the landscape that give the illusion of tiny creatures living there. Ideally, fairy gardens are located in small, somewhat secluded parts of the garden, providing the illusion of just happening upon a magical place.
Creating these gardens of whimsy takes little more than a tad of fairy knowledge, a bit of imagination and a small patch of space.
You don’t need to believe in the mythical fairy creatures in order to create a fairy garden! It could be a fun project with your children or grandchildren.
A fairy garden is not difficult to create, but it’s probably a smart move to learn what fairies prefer in their environment. They like secret hiding places in a secluded corner, a rotten log or a clearing at the base of tree. They are said to prefer oak trees, where they live in the topmost branches.
Foxgloves are a good choice if you want to entice them into your garden. They also favor wildflowers and a slight, unkept look, as well as elfin thyme and Irish moss as a soft meadow to sleep on.
Since fairies need space of their own for celebrations and festivals, small stones and pebbles for pathways and tiny benches, chairs, fencing, and arbors could provide encouragement for the fairies to stay.
Weatherproof doll-house furniture, miniature glazed ornaments, and a small dish containing water embedded into the surface to resemble a pond can be enticing. A whimsical fairy door at the base of a tree would allow fairies to both leave quickly should danger threaten.
Allow your imagination to bloom. Think of acorn caps as fairy cups, walnut shells as fairy bowls, and small inverted champagne glasses as birdbaths.
Doreen Virtue’s book, "Fairies 101: An Introduction to Connecting, Working, and Healing with the Fairies and Other Elementals," is a good source for learning more about fairy lore.
Do you like the Barker's fairy art? Would you ever consider creating a fairy garden?
(Photos via Google and Pinterest)