Lilly of the Valley

I wouldn’t want you to miss the blooming of the Lilly of the Valley. The fragrance is not too sweet, like that of the lilac. The Lilly of the Valley smells light, and yet distinctively sweet; better than an expensive bottle of French Perfume. The scent is a brief, once-a-year privilege for walking this Earth.


Yet, it is easy to miss the blooms of this plant. This is why I’m giving you a heads up. There are two reasons for this. First, the blooming time of the window is very short. Soon after the white, bell-shaped flowers form, the sun begins to shrivel the flowers. And, secondly, the plant itself, is fairly small, and the bell-shaped flowers usually get hidden under the big leaves. If you aren’t diligent about checking for them, you might find them already brown and shriveled, and no scent left. Then, you must wait about 360 days for another chance to smell their fragrance. So, go check. Mine have already been blooming for about 5 days — only a few days left.

The blooming of this flower reminds me of the birth of my second son — actually the labor of my second son. His birthday is in June. However, that year, the Lilly of the Valley bloomed late. I walked through the woods with my husband, trying to shorten the early stages of labor (which lasted for 72 hours), I was greeted at every turn by the sweet fragrance of the Lilly of the Valley. I have missed their fragrance several times. Usually this occurred when I was busy in the throes of nursing a baby, working hard to remember which side I nursed last, while focusing on reading books to the older ones, and trying to make everyone feel as special as they all were to me. As I get older, I’m getting better at remembering the important things, like Lilly of the Valley.

Lilly of the Valley is also called, Our Lady’s tears. According to legend, the tears Mary shed at the cross turned to Lilies of the Valley. According to another legend, Lilies of the Valley also sprang from the blood of St. George during his battle with the dragon.

Does Lilly of the Valley grow where you live? The flower is a native of Europe, (horror –some call it a weed because it spreads). But, thanks to commercial nurseries, you can buy the Rhizomes, (like a bulb), and plant them where there are cool, temperate climates. Mine grows along the side of our house, where it serves as ground cover, in an area where it amazingly, with 4 boys, gets very little traffic. You can buy the Lily of the Valley Rhizomes and plant them in your yard.

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16 comments to “Lilly of the Valley”
  1. I regard this as MY flower, though I encourage everyone else to join in the ownership. When a very little girl my mother would walk with me around the plantings of them, always near tall trees or next to the house where there was shade, and show me how to pick them sliding my hand down the delicate stem very, very gently until I reached the bottom and giving a swift snap to break the stem. She and I would make a little bunch for me which was precious for the aroma and the labor and patience it took to collect them. She designated them MY FLOWER! When I was in college my mother mailed them to me soaked in a towel and wrapped in plastic! If only there were a perfume that could capture that smell and bring my mother back to me — but, then they wouldn’t be the precious one time a year delights, would they? Thanks for writing this, SusieJ.

  2. They are connected to my mother for me, too. I have lots of them on the north side of my house, and they are in full bloom. My mother belonged to a music sorority in college and stayed active in the alumnae group all her life; they had a special dinner at the beginning of May every year, and she would come and gather small bouquets from my yard for the tables. I don’t know that there is a scent I like better. They remind me of her, now.

  3. Louann, and Lisa — try to find some at a florist so that you can have a sample of their smell. Worth the expense.
    NannyMolly and Donice — your comments brought tears. At the time, I’m sure your Mother’s had no idea how much the scent of this flower would take you back to your connection with her. So beautiful that the smell of this flower can bring back her tenderness.
    I have a flower designated for each of my children — based on something they did, or that occurred when they were tiny. It’s nice to know that they will carry that memory through their life, even after I’m gone.

  4. I have a flower designated for each of my children — based on something they did, or that occurred when they were tiny. It’s nice to know that they will carry that memory through their life, even after I’m gone. Yes they will! How prescient of you to do this for them. It will have meaning more than they can know now.

  5. I’ve always loved Lily of the Valley… but they don’t stand a chance here in sunny, hot Florida… thanks for your kind words, Susie… I really appreciate them and you.
    I didn’t know that legend about the Blessed Mother…

  6. My absolute favorite flower ! And a signature bloom at that for us Dear Susie as “Susan” means Lily in Hebrew . We are lucky to have that honor , non ?
    I was lucky enough to live in the ‘Valley’ , too so i guess i am a true Lily of the Valley !

    Hope you and yours are well…


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  8. Hi,
    Im 15 years old I love gardening but I don’t have my own ive beent kaing care of my great grandma’s and my grandmas gardens for them but now i want my own and I was born in may and I found out that this is my months flower and I was wondering if lilly of the valley will grow in florida? I live close to the coast and we do get wind but it is zone 9 and I dont know much about this flower so I was wondering if it would grow in my area so if you could please help me I would really appreciate it!


  9. Lily of the Valley has always been one of my favorite flowers. I still remember this song about them I learned in elementary school about 45 years ago:

    White coral bells upon a slender stalk,
    Lilies of the Valley deck my garden walk.
    Oh don’t you wish that you could hear them ring…
    That will happen only when the Faeries sing.

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  11. Lilly of the valley is my favorite flower and my month flower. I have always loved these flowers. I have some planted in the yards of every home I’ve lived in. I’m going to be moving to Florida and am very disappointed to find out that they won’t grow well there. It’s going to be the first home I’ve lived in were I won’t have my beloved Lilly of the valleys with me.

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