When you’re gifting flowers, or simply choosing some for your own enjoyment, taking into account the connections historically associated with certain blooms can impart added meaning to your arrangements. One way is by incorporating the flower of the recipient’s birth month. This month, we’ll be looking at the delicate and graceful lily of the valley, May’s birth flower.
Originally from Europe, lily of the valley is a perennial that flowers in April and May. Its 5- to 8-inch stems are covered in tiny, bell-shaped flowers, and it has medium-bright lance-shaped green leaves. (Interestingly, this plant isn’t technically a lily at all—it’s a member of the asparagus family!) Lily of the valley blossoms are most often white, but they can also be found in pink and lilac. The flower is known not only for its beauty, but also for its delicate, appealing fragrance. It’s a popular garden plant, preferring partial shade with plenty of water and good drainage. If you plant it in your garden, be aware that it spreads via rhizomes, so in good growing conditions it will happily spread out to fill in whatever space is available—take care to contain it with edging if you want to keep it confined to a certain area.
As a cut flower, lily of the valley has long been popular in bridal bouquets. This is due in part to its meaning in the Victorian language of flowers, where it symbolizes the return of happiness. Kate Middleton’s all-white wedding bouquet featured this bloom, as well as sweet William, myrtle, and hyacinth. As a wedding flower, they pair well with other flowers as accents, or look fabulous entirely on their own, with dainty blossoms contrastingly beautifully with their broad green leaves.
Of course, lily of the valley does not need to be reserved for weddings. To use as a cut flower any time, look for stems that still have buds that are closed (but not translucent) at the top. Trim the bottom of the stems before you put them in room-temperature water. Unfortunately, lily of the valley does not have the longest vase life, but you can extend the time you have to enjoy them by adding cut-flower food to its water. Be aware that all parts of lily of the valley—leaves, stems, and blossoms—contain toxic compounds, so if you have inquisitive pets or children, it’s best to keep a cut arrangement safely out of reach.
At Rachel Cho Floral Design, we know that inspiration for great floral design can come from anywhere—the shape of a bloom, its color, its fragrance, or its history. Our passion is combining our expertise with our clients’ vision to create new, vibrant designs that embody the style and mood you want to capture. Whether we’re crafting an event design or a single just-because arrangement for a special moment, you can count on receiving great customer service and superior quality flowers. To find out how we can help with all your floral needs, click here.