Common Name: Lily of the Valley or Lily-of-the-Valley
Cultural Information: Plant the growing tip of the rhizome just below soil level in a well-prepared bed. The foliage begins to go dormant by early fall, dying completely to the ground.
Thomas Jefferson recorded lily-of-the-valley as early as 1771 in a list of hardy perennial flowers suitable for Monticello.1 He also ordered roots from Bernard McMahon in 1809.2
This well-known flower, native to Great Britain, is a universal favorite and has been in gardens since the 16th century.3Williamsburg'sJohn Custis first mentioned lily of the valley around 1738, and by 1829, flowers in white, double white, and rose red were known.4 In the late 19th century it became an important florist flower and was produced in immense quantities.
Lily of the valley is a hardy, herbaceous, late-spring-flowering perennial with fragrant, nodding, white, bell-like flowers and large, dark green, lance-like foliage. The plant was used to help with headaches, hysteria, fainting, sprains, cholic, and love potions.5
- Peggy Cornett, n.d.
Primary Source References
1808 December 19. (Ann Cary Randolph Bankhead to Jefferson). "I would be much obliged to you if you will send me in a letter some of the ice plant seed a Lady here has Lost it & is to give me a few roots of the Lilly of the valley ...."6