Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Heaven or Hell

Lily of the Valley "Convallaria majalis"

Lilies of the Valley have the most heavenly smell. The fragrance has long been the basis of many perfumes. Because of the smell, it is often used in bridal bouquets.

In the meanings of flowers, Lily of the Valley means "Return of happiness, purity of heart, sweetness, tears of the Virgin Mary, you've made my life complete, humility, happiness, loves good fortune."

The legend of the Lily of the Valley is that it sprang from Eve's tears when she was banned from the Garden of Eden. It is also believed that this flower protects gardens from evil spirits.

Referenced in the Bible in Song of Solomon 2:1 and the 1881 hymn, "The Lily of the Valley" which is referring to Jesus. It is the symbol of humility in religious paintings.

There are books, ministries, and a highway in Virginia named Lily of the Valley,

Traditionally associated with May 1st, especially in France, where the "muguet" is handed out at special events.

On the dark side, all parts of this plant are poisonous if eaten.

Some little facts: The low growing perennial herb, with little white bell flowers, will bloom in April-May and have red berries in the summer. First recorded cultivation was in 1420. Hardy to Zone 2, prefers partial shade and moist rich soil but isn't all that picky. It makes a good ground cover and will spread; some call it invasive. There is a hybrid with pink bells, another taller version and several with patterned leaves.

Most all plants had medicinal uses when plants and concoctions were the only known treatments. Specific mixtures prescribed by herbalists have been used to treat heart problems. Of course if used incorrectly - see the dark side.

It may be purchased either potted or just the pips. Most gardeners will gladly share a few pips. Even though it looks fragile, there is nothing about this plant that isn't tough. It is often found in patches of old yards long after the homes are gone. It is seldom bothered by insects or disease. If planted near walnuts, they will not thrive and may die.

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