By Sandra Nelson
Today’s pick is by Shawn Eptig,
Lily of the Valley
I’ve heard it said that this is the fragrance of heaven.
Straight from your grandmother’s garden, the familiar lily of the valley is a hardy ground cover for shady spots. Masses of highly fragrant white blooms, which are excellent as cut flower bouquets, appear on gracefully arching stems above the glossy green leaves throughout the month of April. As beds age however, flowering can decline. Pulling clumps and dividing them often re-invigorates the plants, sparking an abundance of spring blooms the following year. Red-orange berries will sometimes appear in the fall if genetically differing plants are in close proximity, but are fairly uncommon .
This 6 to 8 inch plant is very aggressive and spreads easily by underground rhizomes, making it a good choice for erosion control. It prefers a rich moist, well-drained soil, but also tolerates dry soil, clay soil, drought, road salt and an alkaline ph. Lily of the Valley is rarely seriously affected by insects or diseases; deer and rabbits tend to avoid it. To control its spread, either plant it in a root- constrained bed or be diligent about pulling newly emerged plants throughout the growing season.
Zones: 3 – 8
Please be advised: Stems, leaves, berries and roots of this plant are all toxic containing cardiac glycosides.