This will be the first in a series in which I’ll introduce you to my garden. A bit of background. I have been gardening since I was 8, or maybe younger; I just recall the first actual garden planted was about that age and returned from summer camp to find a giant thistle had overtaken the little plot of even more healthy weeds. Lesson One: Gardening is not a part-time endeavor.
In the interim there’s been a lot of lessons learned; still going on. Sometimes I repeat the same mistakes over and over because well, maybe I’m an optimist, or maybe I’m insane (reflecting on Albert Einstein’s definition). It’s said that to plant a garden is to believe in the future, and part of what makes me who I am is leaving a place more beautiful than I found it. Trees, flowers, herbs, so-called weeds; all have a place if one understands what they have to offer. I’ll admit there are some foes in the plant world I’ve chosen to battle that other gardeners might welcome into their own allotment. This walk in the garden will get to those plants as well.
First up for the ornamentals is Lily of the Valley, one of the early spring bloomers. A perennial, that spreads through underground roots called rhizomes, it has one or two leaves with a stem featuring fragrant bell shaped white (typically) flowers. It’s inedible and in fact, poisonous so keep children and pets away. There were a handful of these when Mad Cy and I moved here and I’ve happily encouraged the sprawl since they’re in a good location for that at the back of the garden. Since they’re so healthy I intend to relocate several to the front yard. We’re endeavoring to turn the front into a woodland setting, dominated as it is by two enormous Norway Maple trees.
I wish the scent could be uploaded along with the photo; sitting on the bench beside the garden bed inhaling the fragrance is bliss after a long winter. Wikipedia references studies about the odour and fertility. Which is interesting because as one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring it’s also associated with mythologies of life.
Lily of the Valley blooms only in the spring—May/June in Zone 5 where I live, then the blooms fade, and the leaves die back. It requires no particular maintenance beyond controlling the spread. My experience with plants that spread via rhizomes is a buried barrier is the best defense—a sidewalk, edging, or planted in pots.