About this cultivar:
Convallaria majalis is the species namesake. A quickly spreading plant that forms a fragrant carpet of pure white, bell-shaped flowers and long, dark green leaves.
- Position: Partial shade, Full shade
- Soil: Almost any soil, grows well in Ballyrobert
- Flowers: May, June
- Other features: Grows well in Ballyrobert, Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit (RHS AGM), Scented
- Hardiness: Fully hardy - grows well in Ballyrobert!
- Habit: Mat forming
- Foliage: Deciduous
- Height: 10 - 25 cm (0.3 - 0.8 ft)
- Spread: 30 - 60 cm (1 - 2 ft)
- Time to full growth: 2 to 5 years
- Plant type: Herbaceous Perennial
- Colour: White, green
Goes well with: Epimedium, Ferns (Athyrium), Hosta, Tricyrtis or Vinca. Also think about others with similar habits like Omphalodes and Anemones. I've even heard of Ophiopogon as a partner. We put ours in the woodland because it can take over when it is in our borders.
About this genus:
Convallaria is a genus of one, two or three species. It depends if keiskei and transcaucasica are recognized as separate species by taxonomists. Don't even get them started on what family it is supposed to be in.....
This means that for all intents and purposes we are referring to Convallaria majalis when we say Convalaria. Common names include Lily of the valley, May lily, Our Lady's tears, Lady's tears ,Conval lily, Liriconfancy, May bells, Mayflower, Mugget, or Word lily. So all those common names makes us commoners look much less organised than the taxonomists I just poked fun at.
Not only is it associated with a variety of names, Convallaria is also associated with a variety of legends. Depending on who you ask it signifies sweetness, trustworthiness, the return of happiness, optimism, etc etc etc. If you ever get married to a prince, Convallaria also has its uses; it was in the wedding bouquet of the Duchess of Cambridge (the one married to Prince William whose sister is always in the newspapers for looking pretty).
Whilst we are talking popular culture, wikipedia tells me that in the popular show 'Breaking Bad' the criminal drug-lord kingpin, Walter White, uses Convallaria to poison a child, Brock, in order to blame the poisoning on Gus Fring and to make it look like he was poisoned with ricin.
I'd recommend using Convallaria in a wedding bouquet before I'd recommend using it to poison and kill a child. But before you think about those uses, think about its use in the garden!
In the garden Convalaria is a beautiful, sweetly scented, highly poisonous woodland-type flowering plant that is native throughout the cool temperate Northern Hemisphere in Asia, and Europe. They are well-known for producing a cluster of small, white, bell-shaped, fragrant flowers in spring. Cultivated varieties may have pink flowers, double flowers, extra large flowers or variegated leaves. Books tell you Convallaria prefers cool, shady, moist conditions and is adaptable to most garden soils. In Ireland we rarely have 'full-sun' so that means we can grow it almost anywhere. It spreads via rhizomes to form extensive colonies when it is happy - like in Ballyrobert. It can be so prolific that in some gardens it may even be considered a weed - if that is what you are after. But we know in some gardens locally it is miserable! Why is anyone's guess....
How to use it? Try it with Epimedium, Ferns (Athyrium), Hosta, Tricyrtis or Vinca. Also think about others with similar habits like Omphalodes and Anemones. I've even heard of Ophiopogon as a partner. We put ours in the woodland because it can take over when it is in our borders.
Side note: Despite being born and bred with plants in a plant nursery environment I (Paul) always always always always always confuse Convallaria with Polygonatum.