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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What is Lily of The Valley ?

View all these pictures below and appreciate their beauty. This flower is known as Lily of The Valley and is especially associated with the Month of May.

Lily of the Valley is a flowering plant popular in gardens for its appearance and its delicate scent. A perennial plant with a rhizome root system, Lily of the Valley sends up shoots in spring and can grow up to 12 inches (30 cm) tall. Each Lily of the Valley stem has two leaves and a flower stalk featuring white, bell-like blossoms that develop into tiny red berries. Lily of the Valley is native to temperate areas of Asia, Europe, and North America, where it grows naturally in woodland settings.

Lily of the Valley is not difficult to grow, but the soil must be prepared a few weeks ahead of time. Choose an area with rich, moist soil, and in early September, stir the soil to a depth of 15 inches (38 cm), then add manure two or three weeks later. At the end of September, the Lily of the Valley crowns should be planted six inches (about 15 cm) apart, fairly deep, and preferably interspersed with leaf mold. If planting more than one row, the rows should be at least nine inches (23 cm) apart. Lily of the Valley beds also require transplanting every three or four years.

There are a number of traditions and legends regarding the Lily of the Valley. One story tells that the flowers first grew during Saint Leonard's battle with a dragon; everywhere his blood spilled on the ground, a Lily of the Valley plant sprang up. Others refer to Lily of the Valley as "Our Lady's Tears" and tell that the flowers first bloomed where Mary's tears hit the ground at the foot of the Cross.

Lily of the Valley is also associated with the month of May - the second part of its Latin name, Convallaria majalis, means "belonging to May" - and is typically sold on May Day in France. Lily of the Valley is also the national flower of Finland. In the language of flowers, Lily of the Valley symbolizes purity, humility, and a return to happiness. Its growth in the spring is said to herald the nightingale's yearly return to the forest and its mating season.

Lily of the Valley traditionally has a number of medicinal applications, though the plant is also poisonous, particularly to children and pets. The plant has been used to treat cardiac and urinary tract disorders, as well as skin irritations.

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