The hedgerows are currently full of elderflower in full bloom. It scents the air with summer and lures me outside with its charms. Of course, the first elderflowers of the year were tantalisingly out of reach…
However, good things come to those who wait, and over the last few weeks, elderflower has started bursting through fences and filling the canal bank with joy.
I finally managed to collect some, with dreams of elderflower cordial and champagne. The mallow and clover gave me some new ideas too…
When I got home, I stripped the blossoms from the stems (Tip: Use a fork for removing the elderflowers from the stem. It saves hours, can be meditative once you get into the rhythm, and means you have as little stem as possible in your resultant drink).
I made wildflower vodka, and elderflower and clover gin, by filling bottles with blossoms and adding some honey, then shaking. I’ll leave these to steep for a week or two, taste them, and strain the flowers out/add more honey as appropriate.
That was where the trouble started. I’ve read enough folklore to know that fairies like wildflowers – and elderflower is a magical plant. So I wasn’t all that surprised when a fairy arrived.
I let her settle among the wildflowers and other natural finds I’ve collected on my 30 Days Wild adventures.
She is a cocktail-loving fairy, thankfully, and understands it takes time to create the perfect floral vodka so didn’t try to drink my wildflower liqueurs. Or at least, I don’t think she did…
However, I now have a new houseguest*. She behaves well enough, but does demand I bring her wildflowers and feathers daily (she’s resting as she has a broken wing but likes to bring the outdoors in). I love collecting natural finds so am happy to oblige.
If you enjoy reading about plantlore, folklore, myth and storytelling in general, join in with #FolkloreThursday each week, and follow @FolkloreThurs.
*If you want your own fairy, she is made from old tights, fabric and ribbon scraps too small for human clothes, ‘found’ items (festival sites are great for collecting sequins, fake flowers and other glittery frippery) and pipe cleaners to allow her arms to move.
Minimal sewing is required – just stuff the toe of the tights to make the head, form a body by stuffing the leg of the tights, cut down the middle of the tights to create legs then use the remaining fabric from the tights to make arms and stitch them on. Hair can be made by knotting together long scraps of wool in the middle, then stitching the knots to the centre of the doll’s head, to form a hairline. The knots can then be hidden by a crown or floral headband.
An artists’ model will help you get the proportions right – and any rubbish sewing can be easily covered by fishnet or a skirt. Don’t feel bad about using a hot glue gun to attach fabric to cover your mistakes (though don’t let kids use hot glue guns unattended) You don’t have to hand sew it all.
You can also use feathers, leaves and other nature finds to decorate your fairy doll. Try making one that looks like you, decorated with your #30DaysWild finds…