Friday, 21 March 2014

The elusive flower

This weekend my family will celebrate a happy occasion- my Nan's 80th birthday.

Her favourite flower happens to be one of the most elusive flowers in Australia. On my first ever visit to the Sydney flower markets, I found it!

Lily of the Valley.

Lily of the Valley smells divine. It is sweet, and delicate, and tiny, and pretty. All good things. What's the catch? Lily of the Valley likes colder climates.

It is a Spring staple in my Nan's native England. But here in Australia you can only spy it in the flower markets for around 2-3 weeks each southern Spring. It's one of the most elusive, sought after, under-supplied blooms. As a result, the price of a bundle of Lily of the Valley is disproportionate to it's tiny size. Very disproportionate. Often florists will have undersized vases of one or two bunches sitting on their counter. It gets lost amongst the riot of colours and textures on the flower stand. It's too small, and delicate, and pretty to be thrown into a posy with other flowers. A small amount of Lily of the Valley will usually leave you with little change from $30.

Here are some sweet tid bits about the equally sweet Lily of the Valley.

Lily of the Valley featured in the then Kate Middleton's wedding bouquet. She may have taken her cue from another commoner-to-Princess bride, the iconic Grace Kelly, who also carried Lily of the Valley in her bouquet.

The legend of the Lily of the Valley is that the little white blooms fell from the tears of Eve as she was thrown from the Garden of Eden. Likewise, they are said also to have appeared from the tears of Mary at the crucifixion of Jesus.

It is thought that after the something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue at a wedding, the bride should carry Lily of the Valley for added good luck.

Lily of the Valley has been used in tonic form to aid soldiers returning from war. It was prescribed to lower blood pressure. Prior to that, herbalist Nicholas Culpeper spruiked Lily of the Valley as a memory aid. Still used as a heart tonic, Lily of the Valley shares many properties with the Foxglove (there is some contention over whether it is poisonous like the Foxglove).

Lily of the Valley falls under the Love & Affection sub-heading in the popular Victorian era Language of Flowers. It's meanings also include Return of Happiness, Sweetness, Modesty, and is used to speak the sentiments, "You've made my life complete" and "Let's make up".

Happy Birthday.

K xx