I love this post from Bois de Jasmin about making potpourri and scenting closets and drawers with lily of the valley! Sadly, I cannot grow it in such abundance here that I can try this out. But my sister who lives in New England has a huge patch of lilies of the valley outside her house where they grow like weeds, so maybe I can get some from her next time I am there in May.
Source: Lily of the Valley Potpourri
I planted twenty lily of the valley pips today, so this weekend’s Saturday Snippet is from a favorite book series: Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies. Lilies of the valley are some of my favorite flowers, and I love their fragrance too.
Gentle fairies, hush your singing;
Can you hear my white bells ringing,
Ringing as from far away?
Who can tell me what they say?
Little snowy bells out-springing
From the stem and softly ringing—
Tell they of a country where
Everything is good and fair?
Lovely, lovely things for L?
Lilac, Lavender as well;
And, more sweet than rhyming tells,
And this was one of my favorite songs to sing as a round with my children when they were little:
White coral bells upon a slender stalk
Lilies of the valley line my garden walk.
Oh, don’t you wish that you could hear them ring?
That will happen only when the fairies sing.
Illustration and poem: Copyright Estate of Cicely Mary Barker.
This Saturday Snippet is not from one of my collection of gardening books; it comes from The New York Times and an article called “Our Vanishing Flowers.” Those of us who love flowering plants should pay attention.
Ours is one of the most colorful relationships of history: We need flowers for our very survival, and in turn flowers — the plants that exist as crop cultivars or horticultural cut flowers or potted beauties — rely on us to reproduce and spread. But all is not well in this storied partnership: We who behold or nurture flowers are condemning their wild relatives to extinction at an alarming rate, and the world is quickly becoming a lesser place without them.
The author of this article, Stephen L. Buchmann, is a professor of entomology and evolutionary biology who has written a book called The Reason for Flowers. Sounds like one I will want to add to my collection.
Photo: Retha Meier, for The New York Times.
Recently I have been blogging about fragrance on my other blog, Serenity Now. My most recent “Fragrance Friday” was about ginger lilies, so for today’s snippet, I thought I would share a passage from a favorite small gardening book: Fragrant Flowers of the South, by Eve Miranda. In addition to the helpful information it contains for gardeners in Zones 7-11, it is illustrated not only with photographs but also some lovely watercolors of individual flowers.
The fragrance of the South is as much a part of its heritage as the stately antebellum homes and the mystic legends of the bayou. It’s the wild azaleas sweetening the swamps and hammocks; it’s the Cherokee rose entwining itself along an ancient, weather-worn, split-rail fence; it’s the cool evergreen majestic magnolias, dusting the air with heady perfume from their pristine white flowers. The special fragrances of Southern gardens are gifts that we Southerners share with the rest of the world, filling their memories of their visits to the South with the fragrant treasures we so often take for granted.
Of course when we decide to fill our homes and gardens with fragrant plants, we know that their perfume never totally belongs to the one who plants and tends them. For plants know no private bower, no property lines, but share their wealth from room to room, indoors; and outdoors, their odor jumps over hedges and walled fences, glides down sidewalks and slips into another’s window.
Visiting New Hampshire in August, I am struck again by the beauty of the roadside wildflowers and other plants. Queen Anne’s Lace is a favorite, in bloom at the same time as goldenrod. Invasive pest that it is, the purple loosestrife is also pretty this time of year. Lots of green ferns at the woods’ edges, and wonderful carpets of green moss and silvery grey-green lichens, leading toward the occasional pops of white birches against the dark green of surrounding trees. And in flowerbeds, the hostas are in peak form, leafed out but not yet bedraggled, flower spikes just starting to bloom and without any faded blossoms. Hybrid and wild daylilies are blooming, as are the magenta flowers of echinacea. Summer in New England. Ahhhh.