Throughout Europe (and those who have propagated these little lovelies in the United States, in areas where wet springs prevail, normally), Lily of the Valley is enjoyed as a most marvelous addition to gardens or any rock garden they may cultivate. In France there is a tradition of small bouquets being given to lovers and loved ones on May 1st. These flowers migrate and show up sometimes, unexpectedly, like long lost relatives. A year ago this happened in an area of my property which I normally just clear of weeds and leave alone. The photo shows my entire yield last year when the weather was pretty much like it has been here for the past three days. Nothing is stranger than a sudden monsoon in Denver except for snow in July. I’ve never experienced the latter. I have only heard about it all my life. Summers can be incredibly hot here so it would be almost hilarious for me to experience that here, now. I’ll keep you posted. For now, enjoy this little token of May. – The Castle Lady
This flower has many names throughout the English-speaking world which includes Ladder-to-heaven, Lily Convalle, May Lily and Our-lady’s tears but its Latin technical name is Convallaria Majalis and is a member of the Liliaceae family. It is very popular for wedding bouquets and is often a constituent in perfumes in combination with other flowers or alone. Avon, surprisingly, has an excellent version in their perfume Haiku with this flower as the top note. All parts of these flowers have been used as pharmaceuticals for heart disease and emmenagogue. They travel through creeping underground stems which are rhizomes, very much like an Iris bulb and each sprig will produce two to three oblong, pointed leaves crowned in the middle with white, bell-shaped blooms on single 4 to 10 inch upright stalks. Some of the plants produce red berries. The scent of the blooms may attract nightingales.
Interestingly enough, the FDA has classified Lily of the Valley as poisonous but it has been used as far back as the 16th century by herbalists as a tea for easing gout, in wine for promoting memory and even as eye drops ! The tea was referred to as golden water and was stored in gold or silver chalices. It is used, even today, like Foxglove in medications to strengthen the heart beat and the effects are much more subtle. It may be best to use this only with authoritative medical supervision.