Fun/safe 'magical' herbs for nieces' fairy garden :)

lavender_lass(4b)November 16, 2011

I'd like to see what herbs 'traditionally' have protective uses or other helpful lore. Safe, somewhat magical herbs are fine, but no scary stuff needed...this is for my little nieces, in their fairy garden :)

So far, they have lavender, sage, pineapple mint, bee balm, oregano, sweet woodruff and lemon balm. They grow dill and basil in the veggie garden. Any other fun/safe herbs that you would recommend? Anything appropriate to a 'friendly' fairy garden? Thanks in advance!

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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Foxglove would top my list for a fairy garden but, alas, it is toxic. And "oak, ash, and thorn [hawthorn]" would also make the top of my list of fairy plants but as those are all trees, I guess they are out too.

Are you looking for sun or shade plants? It makes a huge difference as to what is suggested.

That said...primroses are said to be enjoyed by fairies. My favorite primrose type is the cowslip. I believe they are hardy in your zone and are very early spring bloomers. They bloom for me when the bulb plants like daffodils, tulips, etc. are blooming.


    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 8:49AM
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FataMorgana- Actally, the fairy garden has turned into lots of roses and herbs, with some butterfly bushes and lilacs in the back. On this (the sunny side) we have the lavender and bee balm, along with some of the other herbs already mentioned and clematis, honeysuckle, conflowers, daisies, pincushion flowers, and some other perennials I can't remember the name, at this moment, but they look a little like pestemon.

On the shady side are mostly red bee balm (loves the shade and grew huge) columbine, sweet woodruff and pansies...and two neon flash spirea I planted last month. It does get morning sun, but it's one of the only places the deer can't chew on them!

The girls were really curious about the plants (especially the herbs) and wondered if there were any 'magical' uses or stories about them? They love the pineapple mint and the purple sage, along with the bee balm and lavender. They're at the age, where they're curious about plants, but I'm hoping that as they get older, they'll want to do more gardening on their own, at home. So right now, we're just having fun and making up stories about the fairies and the different plants...where the fairies live in the garden, etc. It also helps that hummingbirds, butterflies, moths and dragonflies all like the garden, too :)

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 3:53PM
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There's a book called the Garden Witch's Herbal that has lists of plants with traditional/magical associations (scroll down to pages 40-45).

    Bookmark   November 17, 2011 at 5:35PM
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How about St. John's Wort? And maybe elecampagne? Both are extensively found in medieval gardens.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 7:19AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Ah, ok. Many herbal references include folkloric and ethnobotanical information beyond just healing and utilitarian uses. Much of that would be excellent for those interested in the sprites at the bottom of their garden. The Modern Herbal by Maude Grieve contains some of that info though the focus is largely medical use and that is all online at the link below.

But you'll probably want to look for something more "new agey" like Cunninham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs. It is chocked full of all manner of magical and folkloric uses of plants. Definitely a fun resource for the magical gardener and a seer of fairies. I cracked open my copy (and it has been years since I did that) to look up fairy plants and give you the primrose info.

You may also wish to see what resources on fairies or Celtic lore have to say on the "Good People" (aka fairies). Certainly there will be plants and colors they like/don't like noted. There are many great references, surely your library will have some - maybe try looking up the info in Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries by Wentz, Fairies by Froud & Lee, An Encyclopedia of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, & Other Supernatural Creatures by Katharine Briggs, and so many others...

By the way, if you carry a four-leaf clover in your pocket, you are said to be able to see the Good People. Of course, by seeing them they will take notice of you - and that could be good or bad! I do hope it is good since I find loads of four-leaf clovers and have one on me often enough! ;)


Here is a link that might be useful: A Modern Herbal

    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 8:12AM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

I like the suggestion of elecampane - you know it is also called "elf dock?"


    Bookmark   November 18, 2011 at 10:14AM
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In addition to the good suggestions above, perhaps the petite book "The Secrets of Herbs" by Rita Schnitzer. You might also look into Cicely Mary Barker's Flower Fairies books. There is also "The Enchanted Garden" by Claire O'Rush, "The Book of Magical Herbs" by Margaret Picton and "The Charmed Garden" by Diane Morgan. May your sacred garden bring many hours of enchantment for you and your nieces!

    Bookmark   December 3, 2011 at 7:16AM
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Thank you all for the recommendations! It's the perfect time to do some research and get ready for next spring :)

    Bookmark   December 28, 2011 at 5:02PM
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bronze fennel might be a nice addition - it's got wonderful color, and mine has hosted a family of hungry, hungry caterpillars the last three years running, bold stripey ones that I suspect are some species of swallowtail.

elderberries and currents are great - they have black-leafed elders now that are unearthly looking, and make big 'caps' of lacy-looking flowers, followed by a mad dash to get bonnets on them before the birds eat the green berries.

    Bookmark   January 1, 2012 at 7:20PM
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fatamorgana2121(Zone 5/6)

Fennel is a great suggestion. It is a pretty and "airy" plant. The caterpillars that visit my fennel are the eastern black swallowtail - the picture below is of one such caterpillar on my fennel.

Fennel is short-lived but asparagus is another "airy" herb plant that is very long-lived and needs little care.

Berries of all types are great suggestions. If you are planning a garden for wee ones, take some care with elderberries. Only the *completely* ripe fruit and flowers are edible. The rest of the elderberry (incl. the unripe berries) is toxic.


    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 8:46AM
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gourds, kids love to watch them grow, and then you can make something from the gourd after its dried. also moonflower which blooms at night, attracting moths and other creatures of the night

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 5:30PM
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Fennel is a good idea. And gourds might be fun in the vegetable patch!

FataMorgana- Very nice picture...thanks for sharing :)

    Bookmark   February 25, 2012 at 11:30AM
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I actually did my garden for the fairies and from what i have read thyme is must have for such garden i got so lucky to find variety which is not just green but has white and green varieted leaves and smells as much divine as the green one ,so i can use it for cooking too or for teas .Hope that helps .Good luck with it and i hope kids will meet many little friends there .:)

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 6:53PM
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Artemisia- Thank you! Thyme is wonderful in the fairy garden. The nieces love the fragrance :)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2012 at 8:06PM
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there is a variegated variety of lemon thyme, smells delightful, that would also make a good addition if you're into thyme (and who wouldn't be? : )

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 1:01PM
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What about rosemary? According to Shakespeare, rosemary is for "remembrance". There is a fairy lesson in that, methinks!

Also, I have many of the books mentioned above and I do believe that I remember them speaking of rosemary, if placed under the pillow, will ward off nightmares. The modern herbalists (as I recall) say the same thing.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2012 at 1:02PM
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gvozdika(8 OR)

What about wood sorrel? We have different kinds of it growing as weeds and the pink one looks so magical. Eating too much of it can be toxic but it is good for children to learn about plant dangers early.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2012 at 2:07PM
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I second the fennel...I know quite a few plants that caterpillars like..You can easily plant parsley fennel or rue for the swallowtails, milkweed for monarchs..etc

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 12:02PM
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