May was never supposed to be a month of isolation for those who celebrate May Day or Beltane... or just love the official beginning of summer. It's the Merry, Merry, Month of May! Accompanying that should be all kinds of outdoor May revels like a procession or parade, Morris dancing or weaving ribbons while dancing around the maypole and crowning a Queen of the May. It's time for "strolling through the park one day" and perhaps having your heart stolen away by a pair of roguish eyes. We certainly weren't meant to be sitting inside missing all the lovely May flowers that were brought to us by April showers!
But as the saying goes "When God closes a door, he opens a window". There is always a way to work the magic of May into your year - no matter what befalls it. So take that COVID!
More people are baking and cooking at home during this time, so here's a delightful recipe for that perfect May treat - the Victoria Sandwich. A variation on the traditional Sponge Cake, the Victoria Sandwich is named for Queen Victoria and we have the Victorians to thank for the addition of butter to the recipe. This formed a more solid, flatter sponge that allowed for the construction of a "built cake", which appealed to their engineering mentality. This recipe (wording altered) is from the "The Victorian Kitchen" series of books - "The Book of Cakes and Cookies". Enjoy!
The Victorian Kitchen Book of Cakes and Cookies, The Bridgewater Book Company Ltd., CLB Publishing, Godalming, Surrey 1995
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2020
It is the last day of the merry, merry month of May and the little fairies in the Grove are busy packing up the maypole and ribbons and storing them away for another year. One day this May, a few callous humans happened to spot the fairies at their dance. They informed the fairies that their dance, although old, was now symbolic of conquest and power and an evil group of people. To this the fairies stared at each other in astonishment (although with a certain amount of sage recognition as well) ... and then burst into laughter at the ignorance of the humans' comments. They merrily continued their communal dance around the sacred maypole chanting (in the immortal words of their kin Robin Goodfellow) - "What fools these mortals be!"
Fairies are immortal. And eternally young. They do what they do and disregard the foolish folly of mortals. They have danced since the beginning of time and have seen holidays come and go, wax and wane. They have seen maypoles torn down and burned in small villages; only to be joyously erected in others. They have seen May Day processions outlawed, only to cover their faces in masks and hold their festivities at night. And they celebrate in private, in their sacred groves and await the time when their dancing will once again herald the joyous beginning of summer. It would seem that "so it has been and so it will always be". Long live May Day!
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2019
May is such a magical month that the appearance of fairies in your garden should come as no surprise! Even the staunchest disbeliever must do a double take when ... apple, pear or cherry blossoms float and swirl though the air, fresh new leaves rustle in the wind or the sun shimmers and gleams in nooks and crannies in the garden. All these subtle happenings can be evidence of fairy activity ...
Here are 3 simple ways to attract fairies to your garden:
This is a biggie because fairies are like songbirds. They love trees as this gives them little branches to cling to, or big branches for swinging and leaves to hide behind. Not to mention that their older cousins, the Dryads, will often tell them stories at night about ancient times and places. Plant lots of perennial flowers that will magically sprout up in the Spring, year after year, without any extra work on your part - bluebells, tulips, daffodils, forget-me-nots, Jack Frost, Lily-of-the-Valley, foxgloves - your garden will be alive with colour and sweet scents that attract the birds, bees, butterflies ... and fairies!
And for some fun, blow some bubbles from a bubble wand! There is something magical about bubbles floating gently on the breeze ... and the fairies will be sure to notice.
Accept the magical world around you and welcome it into your garden. It doesn't matter how big or small it is. Whether you are charmed with a "back 40", a fantastically witch-y cottage garden, a "postage stamp" city plot or even an apartment balcony; you can always add in a little bit of nature - usually more than you think once you get started! Prepare to be amazed at how special life becomes when your home becomes a safe haven for fairies to congregate and play.
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2018 / edited 2020
The beginning of May marks the beginning of Summer in old English tradition. The year was divided into two halves -- with Summer beginning on May 1st and Winter beginning on October 31st. Of course, the weather doesn't always conform to these dates!
This year, however, the Grove has seen a lovely hot week of sunshine - after the usual amount of copious April showers of rain and hail. Hopefully, it will continue for a wonderful and warm May Day on May 1st.
The garden is certainly responding to the heat and all sorts of plants are bursting forth with leaves and blossoms. Here are just a few that my camera caught today!
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2018
Meadow Sweet Grove has experienced a record downfall of rain this Spring. Most of the fairies are probably sitting by their little stoves and looking out longingly at their gardens. When they do go out, I imagine they dart for cover, hiding under handy toadstools along the way. Still, May is the perfect month to search for fairies that might be starting to play in the garden after those long winter months.
An absolute abundance of froggies! Well, it has been raining an awful lot ...
And even Robin Goodfellow, or Puck - as some know him - was found amongst the leaves ...
Finally, a gnome atop his new wishing well home (dry as a bone) and a fairy, trapped under ice all winter, returned to the Grove.
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2017
April showers did indeed bring May flowers to the Grove. Not quite as stunning as last year's spring but as promised by Margaret Elizabeth Sangster, "Never yet was a springtime, when the buds forgot to bloom."
Meadow Sweet Grove © V. Buchanan 2017