17 May 2023
May is another month where the birthday people get to choose their flower. They are extremely different: Lily of the Valley and Hawthorne.
Lily of the Valley
This plant starts us off with some misconceptions. First, it is not part of the lily family, but the asparagus. Second, it is not a specific plant, but a family, Convallaria Majalis. Convallaria means valley plant and Majlis means belonging to May.
The blooms are generally white and produce a heady scent, blooming primarily in May. They hail from Europe and Asia and may also be referred to as May lilie.
Symbolically, there are several interpretations:
- Romance – Added to bouquets in France
- Good Luck and Happiness – Because they are a physical sign of spring
- Humility and Purity – The small, white flowers
- Sadness – Included in funeral arrangements as a symbol of loss and mourning.
- Peace and Serenity – The bell-shaped flowers will drive away evil.
There are two origin legends. The first is that Eve’s tears turned into the plant as she was expelled from the Garden of Eden. The other is that Mother Mary’s tears as Jesus was crucified became the plant.
As mentioned, there are several varieties in this family of plants.
- Rosea presents pale pink flowers and represent happiness, grace and appreciation.
- Hardwick Hall have small, cream colored flowers and dark green leaves with stripes along the edges.
- Fernwood’s Golden Slippers have golden foliage with white flowers.
These low-to-the-ground plants are not picky about the sun and can go from full shade to full sun and everything in between. However, it prefers rich, moist (but still well drained) soil. They are deer resistant. Their drawback is that they can be very aggressive and will need to be thinned out periodically.
Instead of a flower, this plant is more of a shrub of the Cratageus genus within the family of Roses. It produces pink and white blossoms, which are seldom included in floral arrangements but the bush is often used as ornamentals or hedges.
They were first found in Europe, North Africa, North America, and Asia. The name is from the Greek and means strength and sharp, which aptly describes the thorns we find on this plant. As you might guess, one of the traits associated with this plant is that of protection. The other symbols are hope and ultimate happiness.
In lore, hawthorne trees are supposed to house fairies, who became their protectors. For the ancient Celts, they are a sign of long life and protection. They were used to make maypoles during medieval times. Branches were used to make magic wands (ala Drako Malfoy in the Harry Potter series).
If you are considering adding a hawthorn bush to you landscape, be sure the stems are firm and strong. You can plant anytime between October and February, assuming you can break ground, but it is best to wait until the soil is somewhat dry. On the west coast, they can become very invasive.
They produce a berry that is a strange combination of sweet and tart. They are often used to make jams, condiments, teas, and liquors. Just be sure to check with you medical team first since hawthorn can interact with various prescriptions and medical conditions, including the risk of bleeding. Also those women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid it since it can reduce blood pressure as well.