The delicate, sweetly-fragranced lily of the valley is the traditional birthday flower for those of us born in the month of May. Its botanical name, majalis, even means "that which belongs to May". A symbol of spring and rebirth, bunches of these tiny flowers are sold in the streets of France on May Day (May 1st). In the language of flowers used by florists and wedding planners, common meanings for this lily include "return to happiness", "purity of heart", "sweetness" and "you've made my life complete". I have a card hanging in my office that my husband gave me years ago. On the cover is a beautiful bouquet of lilies of the valley. I think he was telling me—however unwittingly—that I make his life complete! (Right, Honey?)
The legend of the lily of the valley's origins is that it sprang from Eve's tears when she was sent out of the Garden of Eden. It is in some places believed that this flower protects gardens from evil spirits, and in Ireland, the plant is known as "fairy ladders" because of the way the bell-shaped flowers hang down from the stem like stair steps. I also think the flowers would make excellent fairy hats. This particular lily is a woodland plant native throughout the cool temperature regions of the Northern Hemisphere in Asia, Europe and the Eastern US. They would never survive here in the arid foothills of Southern California. I wouldn't be surprised though if some intrepid botanist has designed a hybrid I don't know about. If so, even I could have my very own fairy garden. Do you have these little pretties in your garden?
While writing this post, the white flowers and green foliage in the pics above reminded me of the following scenes from the latest Design Within Reach catalog. . .
. . .white lawn chairs on cool green grass, dockside Adirondacks, crisp green upholstery on a patio overlooking the ocean, grassy green tableware under a wide white umbrella. . . all images of terrific ways to spend any part of this long holiday weekend—a "return to happiness" for those who've waited patiently for summer to officially begin.
Happy Birthday to all of you May babies out there!