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May’s Birthflower: The Lily Of The Valley

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Every time I see a lily of the valley, I’m reminded that spring is in full swing and summer is just around the corner. The official flower of May is hard to overlook, with its distinctive white, bell-shaped flowers and lovely fragrance. Look at one closely and you’ll notice the scalloped edges on the petals of this unique flower. My post this week is written in appreciation of a bloom sometimes called the May lily.

A Little Background on the Lily of the Valley

This flower is native to Asia, North America, and Europe. It symbolizes purity, sweetness, and luck in love, so it’s no wonder that it’s a familiar sight in bouquets and other flower arrangements at weddings. I attended the wedding of a friend last spring, and her bouquet caught my attention. (No surprise there: Flowers always seem to get a double-take from me.) Her bouquet held a mixture of lilies of the valley, big pink peonies, pink roses, and lamb’s ear that looked absolutely lovely. The lily of the valley is also mentioned in the Song of Solomon in the Bible: “I am the rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys.”

The Lily of the Valley and its Colors

When you think of this flower, you probably picture the traditional, waxy white petals. These are the most common types. But there is also a lily of the valley rosea in pale pink, so you can vary the types of lily of the valley you have in your garden.

Where Do These Flowers Grow?

Lily of the valley grows wild in temperate woodland areas. They can grow across a forest floor, creating a thick layer of ground cover. These blooms thrive in partial shade or full sunlight as long as they receive an adequate amount of water. They pop up in late spring and continue to grow into early summer.

Caring for Lilies of the Valley

Moist, well-drained soil is essential for lilies of the valley to flourish. The best place to plant them is in an area that receives partial shade. Take care to plant them away from other flowers in your garden. Though these flowers are lovely, they grow and spread out very quickly, which can interfere with the healthy growth of other flowers. Once the foliage drops off of these flowers in the fall, put some mulch around them to nourish the soil for spring growth.

Interesting Facts About This Bloom

  • The lily of the valley is poisonous to humans and animals.
  • Grace Kelly, Princess Diana, and Kate Middleton all carried bridal bouquets featuring lilies of the valley.
  • The lily of the valley is Finland’s national flower.
  • This bloom is a member of the asparagus family.
  • The rock group Queen released a song called “Lily of the Valley” in 1974.

If planted in its own space, the lily of the valley can be a beautiful addition to your collection of flowers this spring and summer. So try something new this spring and prepare to admire these fragrant flowers. You’re sure to get a lot of compliments from your neighbors!

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