Simple Elegance

When I saw this photo, I immediately could smell the fragrance. Isn’t it amazing how a certain flower fragrance stays with you? Even though peonies and roses have their own memorable fragrances, for some reason, Lily of the Valley Convallaria majalis seems to be the most vivid in my mind.

It says spring is here. It reminds me of childhood days in our woods and time spent crafting make believe gardens lined with small rocks and filled with moss and tasting the sap from a birch tree that my dad drilled a hole in.

Lily of the valley Crabtree Gardens Spring Blooming Flowers

Those tiny pristine white bell-shaped flowers (actually called tepals) laden with their heavenly fragrance standing between the rich green leaves always seem to evoke a gentle feeling of elegance. It must be the white color-pureness and innocence against the green which is also calming on its own. That’s probably why these flowers are used so much in wedding designs.  Kate Middleton’s bouquet was made with these fragrant little beauties.

I found that I don’t get the same effect if I just use the flowers without the leaves for cut flowers in the house, they were meant to be used together. It’s that contrast of the smooth dark, shiny leaves against those almost pearlized white tepals that makes this fragrant ground cover such an attractive combination.

But wait! I failed to mention that this elegant beauty is completely toxic. Yes, all parts of this “ornamental herb” including the bright red seeds it produces are highly poisonous to humans and animals.  Its medicinal uses are restricted to herbalists only and the FDA considers it poisonous.  Please keep this plant away from children and pets.

That fact leads me to believe it could be the perfect ground cover for gardens bothered by deer, rabbits and voles. They won’t eat it, they already know better. It could be used to cover an area in the shade where nothing else will grow, and it will eventually form a carpet of green choking out the weeds. It’s perennial in USDA Zones 2-9 and pollinators such as bees love it. What a great low-maintenance plant for naturalizing!  That’s why I already planted it at the Cottage this past fall. Hardy, ground cover, fragrant, low-maintenance, these are all the words I love. Fear it not, it will prove worthy in your garden.

How to plant Lily of the Valley

Oh, and I almost forgot- not only did I find JOY this month, I also found some PEACE along with last month’s SERENITY too!

Late Winter Crabtree Gardens 036

Do you have a certain flower or fragrance that sparks all kinds of memories for you? Are you growing Lily of the Valley in your garden? If you have a story to share, I’d love to hear about it.


About crabtreegardens

I am a passionate decorator and the head gardener at Crabtree Gardens, LLC, which is a five acre naturalized garden located in Drums, PA. I advocate chemical-free, low maintenance gardening methods and working along with nature. I'm a freelance garden writer and member of GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators.
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11 Responses to Simple Elegance

  1. We have some Convalaria, it is very lovely and will grow in difficult sites.

  2. wanderoneday says:

    This has always been one of my favorite flowers. So delicate!

  3. yinyin says:

    I ‘ve never seen these little cute bells in my place before 😦 In Japan , they even have Bun with this flavor, how cool!

  4. My mom and I wait every year for a beautiful bunch from my sister’s garden. It is one of the most fragrant flowers in a little package!!!! Love the blog!!!! :)))

  5. Sadly, this plant is very iffy here in zone 7b Raleigh, where it’s hot and humid. My neighbor grows it and it’s ok but not great. I tried it and it was a total flop. We aren’t exactly smell-deprived at this time of year, but it’s still a bummer!

  6. Chris Leskosky says:

    I have it in my garden for many years. It was a gift from one of the Hazleton Area Garden Club members. Love it! But then again, find me a flower that I don’t love… never going to happen!

  7. Thank you so much taking time to look at my blog. Clicked back and happened on this post, just wonderful, lily of the valley is one of my all time favourite flowers and I’m now thinking where I might put some on my plot.

  8. Jean says:

    I don’t have Lily of the Valley in my garden, but it’s on my list to add in the future. They really are lovely. The most evocative spring scent for me is lilac.

  9. The scent of Lily of the Valley is one of the things I most look forward to in the Spring garden. Thank you for this evocative photo, which reminded me of that one more wonderful thing to think about!

  10. Hi! First time visitor. Just planted lily of the valley last year, and it thankfully returned this year despite the weirdly dry winter we had. I’m waiting for it to proliferate. I know some people view it as invasive, but I have it planted in a spot where that shouldn’t be a problem…I hope! Like you, the fragrance just sends me into a zen place! Enjoy!

    • Hi Alycia, thanks for visiting! If you keep an eye on it and dig out the runners around the outside perimeter it will stop the spread and keep it in bounds. Looking forward to seeing it in the future on one of your fabulous tablescapes;)

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