Flower fairy wands and stunning Walter Crane illustrations

posted in: Cicely Mary Barker, Walter Crane | 5

Thinking recently about books and stories which have been shared across at least three generations of our family, I was reminded of the Flower Fairy books by Cicely Mary Barker.

It was a little like suddenly seeing the trees for the wood, as Flower Fairies have long been a favourite with my girls; they love dressing up as Flower Fairies, they’ve recently “wallpapered” their bedroom walls with Flower Fairy postcards, and with autumn now approaching, they’ve been using the dried seed heads in our garden as Flower Fairy wands; as you wave them about ‘fairy dust’ (seeds) fly out casting magic which will grow next year.


These seed heads come from poppies, love-in-the-mist, bluebells, Granny’s bonnets (also known as Columbine), teasels and cow parsley. Playing with these natural objects is such a delight – not only are they free, they are exquisite. (Poppies, love-in-the-mist and Granny’s Bonnets have the added advantage of being the easiest flowers to grow: Just throw the seeds onto soil and forget, and they’ll reward you returning year after year!)

howtofindflowerfairiesApart from the original collections of Flower Fairy poems and illustrations, my girls favourite book is How To Find Flower Fairies. With truly magical paper engineering, replete with hidden treasures, and lavish illustrations this is a book they treasure.

In searching for new Flower Fairy related books I came across some incredible illustrations that actually pre-date Barker’s Flower Fairies:












These images come from “A Floral Fantasy in an Old English Garden. Set forth in verses & coloured designs” by Walter Crane (1899) and I found them in the British Library’s Flickr stream.


Whilst they’re not designated as fairies, you can see why I made the connection with Barker’s illustrations. I particularly love that there are so many men in Crane’s illustrations.

A second book by Crane also caught my eye. The following illustrations are taken from “Flora’s Feast. A masque of flowers, penned & pictured by Walter Crane” (also first published 1899), and again found in the British Library’s Flickr stream.














How I would love to dress up as any one of these next World Book Day!

If your kids also love the Flower Fairies, here are some other resources that might inspire them:

  • Flower Fairy Fashions from Artful Kids – a free printable to use with flower petals to create your own real flower fairies!
  • How to press flowers by Red Ted Art
  • Fairy glitter wands (and a great book about fairness) – an old post on Playing by the book
  • Flower fairies made from wooden beads, artificial flowers and pipecleaners – a tutorial on Spoonful.
  • The Flower Fairy poems set to music – I haven’t got a copy of this myself, but it could be just right for dancing to.

  • What books have been shared across three or more generation of your family? If you HAD to be a flower fairy, which one would you chose to be?

    5 Responses

    1. This post brought back childhood memories. Although I can remember The Flower Fairies merchandise from when I was younger I don’t really remember the books!
      Catherine recently posted..Learning with Elmer by David McKee

    2. I was very happy my name began with C so that I could be “pretty, dancing Columbine” in the Flower Fairy Alphabet. Although with Z you got a nice one too!

      Thanks for sharing those lovely illustrations.
      charlotte recently posted..Waiting on Wednesday (or at least till Kidlitcon 2014) for Bayou Magic, by Jewell Parker Rhodes

    3. Hi Catherine – no, I think the books are funny ones in a way for the poems are quite tricky when you’re young, and yet the illustrations can be so beguiling.

      Ah yes, Charlotte, the Columbine – doubly lucky you, as columbine seed heads make super seed scattering fairy wands when dried!

    4. Those Walter Crane illustrations are lovely! And I’ve long wished for someone to do some more diverse illustrations in the style of Cecily Mary Barker, although I’m sure they wouldn’t be quite the same.
      Maureen E recently posted..Recent Reading: Scalzi, Milan, Host, Hamilton

    5. I used to read my Grannys flower fairy books
      Becky recently posted..5 Thrifty Jewellery Storage Hacks

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