It is almost the time—for the bloom and fragrance of lily of the valley! Nineteen years ago when we first moved into our house, one of the most exciting aspects of being a new homeowner was seeing what flowers where already in the garden. Each season I awaited unknown blooms and I was so happy when May came around and the beautiful little charms popped up.
My lilies of the valley have multiplied over the years (as they are known to do) and I received help at increasing the population in my garden from my mom. About 5 years ago she visited us and brought with her lily of the valley from her garden walk (and my childhood home) in New Jersey. We planted them in a shady spot by my patio so now I have lilies of the valley in abundance!
Lily of the valley, also known as the flower of May is so dainty and often sought out for wedding bouquets in spring. Though you can find a rare pink variety from specialty plant sources, they are usually white. The symbolism of the flower is return of happiness (yes, I feel that way when they arrive in May). They are also said to be purity of heart or the tears of the Virgin Mary. Another legend is that lily of the valley sprang from Eve’s tears when she was kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Whatever—they are gorgeous in bouquets!
As for the fragrance, some find it too much—but I just love it. The best way to experience the fragrance is from the flowers, but perfumes are wonderful too. I think that many people feel the fragrance is too old-fashioned. I say phooey to that! If the fragrance is pretty to you, enjoy it! My great aunt Ellie, who I loved so much, adored lily of the valley perfume. Fragrance is very powerful at evoking memories, so when I sniff lily of the valley, I remember her. I have bath-oil from my sweetie Andy that is pure lily of the valley. Just a drop or two in my tub (a little goes a long way) and I am off to memories of my childhood.
And speaking of walks into my childhood memories, one of my favorite connections with lily of the valley is the sweet song-in-the-round that speaks of lily of the valley on my garden walk. Thanks to my mom, I learned that song as a little girl. I bet you know it too ☺
White Coral Bells
White coral bells
Upon a slender stalk.
Lilies of the valley
Line my garden walk.
Oh, don’t you wish
That you could hear them ring.
That will only happen
when the fairies sing.