Earth Sky Time

In the garden and beyond

Growing lily of the valley

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lily of the valley groundcover

Lily of the Valley 

The small bulbs called pips are best planted in fall or early spring. Lily of the valley flowers only once a year, usually around the third week of May, sometimes sooner as is the case this year. And then, like all ephemeral wonders of great beauty, they fade away, leaving vivid green stemmed foliage to form carpets of green.

For this reason the plant makes a wonderful groundcover and will thrive in shady areas of the garden that receive dappled light. The pips can also be grown indoors in small quantities (the process is called “forcing”) and make a delightful gift for the winter weary.

Lily of the valley flowers symbolize a “return to happiness.”  According to legend, this was because of the affection the lily of the valley had for the nightingale that did not come back to the woods until the flowers bloomed in May.


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