Lilly of the valley are a native species but because they are so beautiful and smell quite delightful they have been grown in gardens for generations. Then of course the garden specimens have infiltrated back into the countryside so it is all a bit cyclic. Evidently the ‘true’ wild types are a bit more leggy and garden ones are a little more stocky. However I am sure soil conditions and available light would also affect their stature, so that is not much to go on.
The photos here were taken in my next door neighbors garden, so many thanks to them. I asked my neighbor if they planted them and I was told that they had some in their old house but did not bring any with them as it is supposed to be bad luck to move them. The ones in their garden were there when they bought the house. I have read that they are supposed to represent marital bliss, but also that the plants are highly poisonous.
I have searched for them in the countryside. In my old book of Wild flowers of Monmouthshire it says they are to be found in some of the lanes and pathways south of Cleddon…. well not by me.
They are supposed to be quite fussy about where they grow, but if given conditions which suit them they will flourish and spread. I remember as a child that we had lots in various shady places in our garden and my Mother was quite keen on them as a little cut flower in a small vase. There was one big patch at the back of the house and also in this area was a large flat piece of concrete which I could just about lift up. Under this slab was a good place to find newts, both little brown Smooth newts and big black ugly Great Crested newts. Unfortunately in order to get to grips with lifting the concrete you…. I had to stand on some of the Lilly of the Valley ….. and this was not good…..
Preferred habitat is supposed to be partial shade, light well drained soil slightly alkaline with plenty of humus…. Alkaline and with humus! that’s quite a tall order.
If you look up Lilly of the valley on the internet there is loads of info about it, the poisonous chemicals it contains, lots of folklore, perfume by Dior, how to cultivate it and so on. I am writing this on the weekend that Prince Harry married Megan Markle and with a nod to that event I will pick out one piece of triva which is that Kate Middleton as she was, now Mrs Windsor held a bouquet of Lilly of the Valley when she married Prince William.