Lily of The Valley

Lily of The Valley

Have you ever found yourself in the wild (or as wild as you can find, if you’re a city dweller), and felt suddenly overwhelmed by being one with the world?  Those moments always come to me when I’m outside. I remember sitting outside on the front stoop of our house in Tennessee, the fireflies coming out, one by one, timed with the sun dropping down below the horizon.  A warm summer night, the air buzzed with heat, electricity, and the flickering lights of bugs in the fields. It’s a bit of a spiritual experience, feeling something beyond one’s self, connected.

“The Divine Presence was strongest outdoors, and most palpable when I was alone. When I think of my first cathedral, I am back in a field behind my parents’ house in Kansas, with every stalk of prairie grass lit up from within. I can hear the entire community of crows, grasshoppers, and tree frogs who belong to this field with me. … My skin is happy on the black dirt, which speaks a language my bones understand.” ~ Barbara Brown Taylor

Growing plants that trigger those feelings can help us remember how our bodies are connected to this earth, how we survive when the planet thrives. The birth flower for May, lily of the valley, is delicate and beautiful, with red-orange berries. A sweet smelling flower, it’s a perfect reminder of spring. But don’t let the graceful blooms fool you, it’s a plant with poison.  According to MentalFloss, the plant’s toxicity is its defense against animals eating its seeds. All parts of the plant—the stems, the leaves, the flowers and the berries—are extremely poisonous.

Happy birthday to you, May Babies! Taurus folk born by May 20th are known for their earthy, realistic ways of living. Later May kids born under the Gemini sign are typically intellectually inclined, forever seeking information. Does that describe you? Have you planted your birth month flower?  Careful where you choose to put down your roots: lily of the valley are notorious for taking more than their share of space, so it’s best to plant them up against a wall or driveway, and curtail their wonton growth.

Planting outdoors, find a spot that has light to moderate shade, and soil that drains well. The bulbous roots are called “pips,” and it’s best to cut an inch off them before planting. Perennials, your lily may not flower the first year.  Or, to grow indoors, try these tips from Erin Boyle on Gardenista.  I love how Erin concealed the plastic pot in a wooden box, and filled in the gaps with moss. An elegant way to bring the connection to earth into your home.

(Photo Credit: ©Wayne Claflin)