Here is a tale I would like to tell you,
about a place not far from here.
It is called 'The Forgotten Forest'
This Forest hides behind the ivy curtains at the end of all gardens big and small.
She stretches out over green hills,
rolling endlessly towards the distant horizon.
Her trees wave gently in the wind, smelling so lovely of the color green. She gives shelter to many creatures, some of whom we know,
like wood pigeons and magpies, foxes and badgers.
But some creatures can only be found in The Forgotten Forest,
and one of these are the Biddy Birds.
Biddy Birds are old bird ladies that know everything there is to know of the air, the sky and beyond. They flock together around the time of dusk, and share among themselves what they have seen and heard in the forest that day, creating a marvelous sound of chipper, chirps and warble. The Moon Moths are their favorite companion, as they bring stories from even further a skies.
The Wolf Witches live there too. Ancient creatures that are half woman, half wolf.
Sometimes a Wolf Witch looks like a wild animal, all furry and fierce, with dark green eyes and pointy ears. Then she runs quick on four legs over the hillsides and fields, chasing the moonlight.
At other times she appears as a woman, wearing her beautiful dress with pearl buttons.
Even though they may seem quite feral, Wolf Witches are kind of heart and very, very wise.
To find the way to the Forgotten Forest is fairly simple.
One goes to the end of any garden where the ivy grows like curtains.
Upon opening the ivy curtains, one is presented with a beautiful mirror held up by two immortal nymphs. The magnificent forest can be entered by stepping into the reflection of the garden behind you.
But be aware, for this Forest cannot be entered when in doubt of her presence.
She does not grant access to a cynical, contemptuous heart
Only those who possess an unspoiled curiosity and a hunger for magic, can find their way there.
In the old days of time,
people used to visit the Forgotten Forest regularly.
One would know when to go there and find their simple way there.
More importantly, one would go there when sick or in pain.
You see, when the spirit of a person becomes diseased with something dreadful,
they must go to the Forgotten Forest to have the dread removed.
Whatever it is that diseased the spirit will be entirely eradicated by the mighty power of the Forest.
The process in which this has happened since the beginning of time is both simple as it is genius.
Once in the Forest,
one is taken to her deepest interior by a Wolf Witch.
There stands a solitary house, illustrious on a hill,
her roots reaching deep into the ground beneath her.
This house is called 'The Mother House.'
and the sick spirit is buried in her grounds.
Then, using the potent power of the Dread that is nestled inside the spirit, the Forest grows a most beautiful flower from it. This flower, by the law of her perfect nature, will be the exact opposite of the Dread that fueled its creation,
filling the forest with an endless amount of beauty, joy and goodness.
Now that the spirit is free of the Dread it is ingested into the Mother House through her powerful roots.
There in her warm fire place, the spirit is replenished with new life and released through her chimney.
In the shape of a ghostly figure made of smoke, the replenished spirit flies over the treetops in search of its human body.
When the body and the spirit are again reunited, the human can return in full health and happiness to their own world on the other side of the ivy. The forest will always remain where it has been forever,
for whenever one needs to return there.
But as time passes, humans have become busier and the world noisier.
Our green gardens lay abandoned and people are forgetting about the old ways and the Forgotten Forest.
But a young girl called Lily and her father Bert Bentham, a famous Botanist, will never forget these wondrous woodlands. In fact, they visit it quite often!
Lily and Bert visit the Forgotten Forest together on Sunday afternoons,
where they enjoy tea and good conversation with Lily's mother, Abelia, a Forest Fairy.
Before Abelia was a Forest Fairy however, she was just a normal human, like all of us.
But please bear with me so I can clarify...
Usually, after the healed spirit is released through the chimney of The Mother House, it reunites with its human body and together they go home, healthy and happy. But on rare occasions the spirit, now so free and unconfined, does not wish to return to the human world they came from. In this case they can sometimes stay in the Forest. They can be seen flying effortlessly over the tall treetops in the pale moonlight, like beautiful figures of smoke.
However, even the Forgotten Forest has some sort of laws of nature,
and the longer these smoke like spirits live in the Forest, the more substantial and earth-like they will eventually become.
Over time they adopt more and more elements of the woodlands they inhabit and eventually become what we call 'Forest Fairies'
Their dresses and hair covered in leaves and greenery.
Their skin musky and their breath earthy.
Their limbs a place to rest for the many birds that inhabit these woodlands.
This is what happened to Lily's mother Abelia, when Lily was only a very small child.
Before Abelia became a Fairy, she lived with her husband Bert and their daughter Lily in an old house with a small garden at the back.
One late evening, when the world was fast asleep,
she wandered out to the end of their garden and disappeared behind the ivy.
She never returned.
Lily did not know sadness in her life until the day her mother left.
From that moment on her young heart filled with grief and sorrow.
When she could no longer carry the burden of her tears,
she walked out to the end of the garden at the back of their house,
as if called there by some kind of magic.
She stood by the ivy where her mother once went, and with her small hands she parted the leaves and branches. To her surprise she saw two nymphs holding up a beautiful mirror.
When Lily looked into the mirror, she noticed the reflection of the garden behind her had turned into the most beautiful forest she could ever have imagined. The colors green were so alive and she saw the soft grasses swaying like little dancers. The trees stood mighty and the air was fresh, and the sound of birds and crickets created the loveliest music. Just like a choir so very perfect were their harmonies.
Then Lily stepped into the reflection of the mirror,
and entered the realms of the Forgotten Forest.
She noticed a creature appear from the shadows, furry with pointy ears and dark eyes.
But how peculiar, the animal seemed to be wearing a beautiful dress made of lace.
Lily felt no fear for it though, because she knew in her heart that the creature was good and wise.
This creature was of course a Wolf Witch of whom I briefly spoke earlier.
The Wolf Witch guided Lily to the deep center of the Forest and there she asked her:
"Dear girl, how can it be your young heart is already so heavy with grief and sadness?"
Upon which Lily wistfully replied "My mother once disappeared at the end of our garden and she never did return"
Then suddenly before her eyes appeared a most lovely lady. She was all covered in leaves and greenery with three wood pigeons resting on her fine shoulders. She smelt of musk, earth and wood fire and her smile radiated something as bright as the sun in the sky.
Alas! It was Lily's own mother who stood there before her! She was a Fairy of the Forgotten Forest!
Seeing her mother made Lily so very happy that her sorrow lifted all at once.
Lily followed her mother to an old oak tree on a hill.
On its branches rested many birds;
wood pigeons, song birds, sparrows, a magpie and some Biddy Birds had gathered there.
The tree had a little window and a crooked door that lead inside.
There was a kitchen filled with pots and pans,
jars full of candied fruits and baskets with fresh nuts.
A round table stood in the middle of the room and a bunch of fragrant herbs were drying above it. Over a small fireplace hung a copper pot, releasing the sweet smell of hot jam.
A tiny spirally staircase crawled up to a second level in the tree where the bedroom was.
The bed looked like a huge birds nest, cleverly woven together with straw, carrying soft pillows of moss and a colorful quilt.
It really was the most beautiful house Lily had ever seen.
Lily and her Fairy mother talked all evening and they enjoyed delicious jam biscuits and sweet cherry tea.
But eventually when the night fell, Lily had to return home so her father would not worry for her.
Just before she stepped out of the door, the Forest Fairy placed a little Magpie on Lily's shoulders.
He was beautiful and covered in feathers of black and white.
"Take this bird to keep you company and to be your friend when you feel lonely" the Fairy said.
The Magpie chirped on Lily's shoulder and picked gently at her messy hair.
Then she gave Lily a most unusual, but beautiful flower. "Please give this to your father" she said
"It is my melancholic heart from which this Forest grew a most beautiful rose."
Lily held the flower before her, admiring it. She thought it was the loveliest thing she had seen.
She carefully packed it away in her little pouch and kissed her mother goodbye.
With the flower and the Magpie Lily made her way back home.
At home Lily's father was bent over his botany books in utmost concentration.
When he looked up from his studies he asked with a smile "Where have you been my darling?"
"I have been to a most beautiful forest and had tea with mother who is a Fairy and lives in a tree with many birds!" Lily answered with great enthusiasm.
Then she fussed the rose from her pocket and gave it to him.
He carefully inspected the peculiar specimen,
mumbling and muttering as he looked at it.
You see, the famous Botanist knew everything and more there was to know about the plants and flowers of our gardens, fields and forests. But never had he seen something quite like this.
When he asked Lily where she had found the curious plant, she told him all about the Forest, her Fairy mother, the oak tree house, the wolves in lace dresses and the chatter of the Biddy Birds.
With an amazement so pure and joyful, and with a heart like that of a wildly curious child,
the Botanist did not question for one moment the existence of this magical Forest.
He insisted instead that Lily would take him there the very next day, and so they did.
The following morning at first day light, Lily showed her father the way to the Forest.
There they enjoyed a most a marvelous time!
They took beautiful walks over the hills and through the woods,
they met the Wolf Witches and chatted with the Biddy Birds.
They lay in the swaying grasses and listened to the music sung by the birds and the crickets.
And of course they examined all the beautiful flowers that grow there, taking notes of each one they saw.
In the afternoon they had tea with the Fairy Mother in her old oak tree, and when the evening fell they said their goodbyes again.
Tired and content Lily and her father returned home on the other side of the ivy.
They slept peacefully that night, knowing the Forest was just there, at the end of their own garden.
And whenever they have a free afternoon to spend, they spend it together at The Forgotten Forest.
Oh, and it goes without saying that The Botanist documented all the specimens he since found there,
resulting in this here little handbook called 'Plants & Flowers of the Forgotten Forest'
More about this at a later time though, so until then, I say you farewell
🌿 TO BE CONTINUED 🌿