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Lily of the Valley or Convallaris majalis.

An ancient hardy perennial that has beautifully scented, delicate white bell shaped flowers.
Its leaves are narrow, oval and dark green and it blooms in spring and early summer.
For more info on white flowering perennials for your English garden click here

Convallis is from the Latin for valley as in the wild it was often found in wooded valleys. Majalis means belonging to May.

Lily of the Valley is known by many names, the most common being Our Ladyís Tears or Maryís tears, referring to when Mary wept at the Cross and her tears turned into the flowers - Lily of the Valley.
Then there is May Lily, Jacobís Tears, Ladder to Heaven and Little May Bells.

It used to be believed that smelling the dried roots and flowers would restore a failing memory and Nicholas Culpepper writing in 1649 noted that the spirit of the flowers distilled in wine restored speech.

Cultivation

Lily of the Valley prefers slightly acidic soil, with plenty of humus and does well in a shady or semi shaded spot, a northerly situation is fine.
It grows to about six inches with a spread of 18 inches.

It likes well drained but moist soil and will grow in any situation provided the soil is relatively moist.
If the situation is too sunny the leaves will die back after flowering.

Propagation

Lily of the Valley has a creeping rootstock and will spread by itself if left to its own devices.
It is best lifted and divided every three to four years during the winter months then replanted with the crowns firmed in well below the surface.

Lily of the Valley looks good when planted amongst grape hyacinths (muscari) or hostas.
They also grow well in containers provided they are kept in a semi-shaded spot and well watered.

Flore Pleno grows to 9 Ė 12 inches and has double flowers.
Fortinís Giant has larger leaves and flowers growing to 18 inches.
Albostriata has white striped leaves
Variegata has gold striped leaves.

Please note
That all parts of Lily of the Valley are poisonous so do not grow it where young children are about as the red berries that follow the flowers can be especially attractive to small children.

Enjoy your garden

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