Fairytales and Trees


Trees are such a major element in many types of story telling.  But they almost become a  character in their own right with fairytales, whether in groups or alone.

Several trees make up the forest, where so many of our favorite stories take place. The woods can offer protection from danger and a hiding place for those like Snow White, searching for a safe haven.  Or the woods can cause confusion and lead to trouble, like Hansel and Gretel ending up at the Witch’s gingerbread house.

Trees individually can be homes to wise elves, fairies and other magical beings.  And trees with an enchantment put upon them can even serve others, like the apple trees in the Wizard of Oz.  But one of the most popular trees in many stories is the willow.  Usually found along streams and other bodies of water, a willow holds a special place for many story lovers.

Not only are willows beautiful, but they are said to have a magic all their own.  Willow branches are so connected with water that they are often used for divining well water.  And willow branches root so easily, that “willow water” is actually said to make rooting other plants more successful.  Willows can also grow in moving water like streams, where other trees may wash away in spring flooding.

So the next time you think of what type of fairytale garden might be right for you, don’t forget trees.  Almost any garden has room for an apple tree or dwarf evergreen.  And if you’re very lucky, you might even find space for a willow.  There’s nothing wrong with having a little magic in your garden…


Fairytales and Potions


How many times is the magic in a fairytale instigated by a potion?  The Evil Queen makes herself into a crone and gives the apple to Snow White.  Alice grows smaller and then larger in Wonderland.  The Little Mermaid gains her legs and visits her prince…and it’s all done with potions.

Any witch or sorceress worthy of the name could make potions.  The good ones used the potions to help the heroes, while the evil ones made potions to defeat them.  And potions could contain some really creepy things…but most started with basic herbs from the garden.

Herbs have been used for fragrance, flavoring, medicines and even magic for centuries.  Even before the early Greeks and Romans used them, herbs were valued for their many attributes.  And monks had herb gardens in monasteries during Medieval times, throughout Europe.

An herb garden often contained roses, since rose hips were one of the few sources of Vitamin C…and of course, for the fragrance.  Lavender was also popular, as were many other herbs we still use today.  In a modern herb garden, roses and lavender are joined by sage, dill, mint, chives, basil, oregano, bee balm, rosemary, marjoram, thyme, tarragon and many others.

Herbs are still used today to make many potions, although some might say the potions are now recipes for healthier foods, relaxing bath oils, even teas.  If you think about it, there is definitely a bit of magic in the herbs and potions we use everyday…making herbs an important and wonderful part of any fairytale garden.


Fairytales and magic


Fairytales use magic to make the impossible…possible.  There are evil Queens with magical powers, sorcerers, fairies, even magic beans.  So why is magic so necessary as part of the story?  Maybe because it turns an everyday item like beans, into a wonderful adventure.

Magic in the fairytale garden is just as important.  Think about arches that make the everyday path more inviting…and more mysterious.  Shaded by climbing roses, honeysuckle or other vines, it makes one wonder what might be hiding on the other side.

Fanciful flowers are another important part of the fairy garden.  Any flower that changes color is an amazing addition…and it’s not that difficult to find roses and other flowers that do just that.  Consider larger than normal flowers such as short sunflowers with big blooms.  Or go the other extreme and have tiny flowers that are just right for fairies.  Alyssum and thyme are both great choices.  And don’t forget the unusual flower, such as bee balm…which makes a very bold statement in any garden.

And while you’re adding all these textures and colors to the garden, you’ll also be bringing in hummingbirds, butterflies and other visitors.  Was that a hummingbird darting so quickly past the arch….or a butterfly flitting past the window…or was it possibly a fairy looking for a quiet place to take a nap?

Fairytales and Roses

July 2011 Garden pictures 006

Roses are the cornerstone of many fairytale gardens.  Climbing roses are a beautiful addition to any garden, but in a fairytale garden, roses are especially important.  A rose-covered arbor can create the entrance to the garden or provide a shady place to sit or share a cup of tea.

The beauty of a rose, as well as the fragrance, have made them a favorite in gardens for centuries. It’s only natural that such a lovely flower would find its way into many stories, including fairy tales.

Even some of the characters are named for roses, such as Briar Rose and Rose Red. Roses are also seen as magical, such as the rose in Beauty and the Beast…when the last petal falls, the prince will forever stay a Beast.

Apothecary gardens contained many magical herbs and flowers found in fairy tales and roses were the center of such a garden.  In a way roses really are magical, because they can make sick people well. Rose hips provide Vitamin C, which prevented diseases that were all too prevalent before citrus fruits found their way to much of Europe. So, if you are planning your fairytale garden, think about including a rose.  They are beautiful, fragrant and easy to grow, if you choose the right rose for your climate.  And healthy, too.  Remember, magic doesn’t have to be high maintenance…