Lily of the valley varieties are beautiful and not invasive
I was easily captivated, and I spent hours and hours with my nose in those flowers – but somehow, those desired visions never came true.
The stalwart of all English gardens, Maybells, Mary’s Tears – or lily of the valley, as they are more commonly known – is a small, sweet, shade-loving deciduous perennial. Reaching only six to eight inches tall, this hardy old plant (Zone 4) is a floral giant in any woodland garden. It is particularly suitable for use as a ground cover under shrubs and trees as well as tall, north-facing walls where few other plants grow, let alone flower.
The very sweet-smelling, white, drooping, bell-shaped flowers, although small, pack a powerful punch. Four or five small springs can perfume a room, while a small piece of landscaping fills the yard with its intoxicating scent in early spring.
Although they are quite comfortable in deep shade and can be easily grown under almost any conditions, lily of the valley prefers dappled shade, rich, clay soil of mature forests and abundant moisture.
Yes, it is important to know that it can be invasive. Granted, in full sun without any additional moisture, it can look sparse during the dog days of summer. But position it correctly, contain its spread with barriers, and divide it every two to three years, and you’ll be rewarded with one of spring’s magnificent highlights.
Having a thick carpet of blooming lily of the valley in your beds and borders may be the thing you’ve been dreaming of, but before you get tempted to plant those bare or potted rhizome divisions, or “spots” as they’re called, be careful: like many other plants in your garden , including daffodils and foxgloves, every part of this plant is moderately poisonous. So keep it away from curious pets and curious young children.
Although it is as beloved a plant as the common lily of the valley, there are superior cultivars now available that will add more sparkle and dimension to your garden. Best of all, most of these little wizards exhibit better manners and tend to spread less vigorously than your grandmother’s plants.
Diversity adds a whole new dimension Confallaria the plants. Besides the spring display of delicious, luxuriously scented white bells, ‘Pomarginata’ has white-edged leaves. ‘Albostriata’ is another variegated species with white to cream stripes on the leaves that fade to light green in summer. And the wonderful minx plant in my garden, ‘Aureovariegata,’ (See the picture on the left) It has dark green leaves and clearly defined yellow lines that are bright yellow in early spring, fading only slightly in summer.
The sassy witch “Rosia” shows off sets of beautiful pink cups, but care must be taken when purchasing this variety as it has a large variety. Some plants sold under this name – ‘pink’ – feature a barely noticeable tuft of light pink, while others have strong violet/pink colours. (See second photo on the left.)
‘Doreen’ is of typical height but with larger dancing flowers. ‘Bordeaux’ (12 inches) and ‘Fourteen Giant’ (18 inches) improved favored with larger stature, longer stems and larger, drooping bells. ‘Flore Pleno’ (12″) displays double blooms, and ‘Prolificans’ enhances this flowering pleasure further by blooming in a wild profusion of small, single bells.
More and more newer varieties are characterized by yellow color. I fell in love with the gold-edged Hardwicke Hall when I visited a few years ago, and then couldn’t pass up the impressive, larger hall. Confallaria With its bold nickname “Cream da Mint”, also with gold edges.
But one of my most recent treasured possessions in this collection is the Fernwood Golden Slippers, which sport Crème da Mint. In early spring it appears radiant yellow foliage, which darkens somewhat in summer, but never turns completely green. It glows like a bunch of yellow sticks when backlit by the sun.
Betty Earl is one of eight garden writers who blog regularly on Diggin’ It. She is the author of In Search of Great Plants: An Insider’s Guide to the Best Plants in the Midwest, and one of eight garden writers who blog regularly at Diggin’ It. She also writes a regular column for Chicagoland Gardening Magazine and The Kankakee Journal and numerous articles for Small Gardens Magazine, American Nurseryman, Nature’s Garden, and Midwest Living Magazine, as well as other national magazines. She is a garden scout for Better Homes and Gardens and a regional representative for The Garden Conservancy.
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(tags for translation) night of the valley