Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Gardening with My Heart (And Not My Head): Lily of the Valley

The side of my grandparents' house (in New York, mind you) was covered with a woodland-like blanket of lily of the valley every May. As children, we would collect as many as we could and carry around little bouquets for as long as possible, until we had inhaled every last drop of the heady scent out of the yellowing flowers.

So now I live in the hot and humid South. The most seasoned and experienced of gardeners from the area have told me of their frustrations trying to cultivate and grow lily of the valley down here. I heeded their warnings and stayed away from the temptation. Until today.

Lulled by the 'maybe-just-maybe' thoughts during a quick lunchtime visit to a nursery, I bought 12 pips. Sucker. A girl from the North can have (irrational) dreams, eh?

We have woods around our house. We do! How magical that would be if I could have the smallest of patches of lily of the valley? Just for nostalgia's sake.

Luckily, I came across these Caswell-Massey Lily of the Valley soaps during today's same lunchtime adventure. These are also a very familiar part of my childhood. As I while away my day-time hours at a desk job, I'm going to make sure to have at least one of these soaps tucked in a drawer at work. Aromatherapy. The old-fashioned way. Like my grandmother would have done.


Katie said...

I'm in zone 7 and I have them growing (like crazy), on the north side of our house. :)

Tracey said...

That is such encouraging news. I have been getting a lot of feedback from local gardeners - saying they have had luck with them. Planting them will be the highlight of my weekend gardening extravaganza.

Katie said...

They actually are a very invasive plant in my garden. I'm always digging some out. I wish you lived close. I'd give you some. Mine is from my MIL and she had it for ages :).

Tracey said...

I love that you got your lily of the valley from an older garden - something about the old-fashioned feel of them and the history of sharing/dividing them is so touching. Seems like women have been sharing them for ages . . . from one generation to the next . . .

Lonnie said...


You might try growing the native strain, Convallaria majalis var. montana. I believe Lazy S nursery carries it. Many people consider it superior to the more commonly grown European variety.