The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Lily-of-the-Valley and Shade Plants

Lily-of-the-Valley grew in shadiest spot of our house in Moline,
near the water faucet.
We were discussing shade gardening when Mrs. Ichabod suggested growing some Lily-of-the-Valley. I ordered a few and they arrived at a good time to plant and water them.

Shade gardening is so popular with some of us that a few regret moving to where there is almost no shade at all. There are many solutions to the problem of growing attractive flowers that thrive in the shade, and they are fun and easy to nurture:

  1. Hostas come in 8,000 varieties and attract Hummingbirds to their flowers.
  2. Calladiums provide remarkable color all summer, though they emerge from the soil rather late.
  3. Rose-of-Sharon are tall, stately shrubs with attractive blooms. Our helper found a perfect one beside his house, planted by a bird. I fake-raged about the unfairness while he laughed.
  4. Lily-of-the-Valley like shade and plenty of moisture. One website suggested mulching them with chopped tree-leaves for the winter. The plants and their berries are toxic.
  5. Wild Strawberries not only bloom early and fruit in the shade, but they persist all summer and spread easily through birds' digestive systems. 


Christian legend

The flower is also known as Our Lady's tears or Mary's tears from Christian legends that it sprang from the weeping of the Virgin Mary during the crucifixion of Jesus. Other etiologies have its coming into being from Eve's tears after she was driven with Adam from the Garden of Eden[26] or from the blood shed by Saint Leonard of Noblac during his battles with a dragon.[citation needed]
The name "lily of the valley" is used in some English translations of the Bible in Song of Songs 2:1, but the Hebrew phrase "shoshannat-ha-amaqim" in the original text (literally "lily of the valleys") does not refer to this plant. It is possible, though, that the biblical phrase may have had something to do with the origin or development of the modern plant-name.
It is a symbol of humility in religious painting. Lily of the valley is considered the sign of Christ's second coming. The power of men to envision a better world was also attributed to the lily of the valley.
---
Nothing is wasted in Creation -
favorite berries volunteer from where birds perch.

Usually I research first and plant later, but not this time. I had some rainwater for soaking them - always a good idea when growing things have been on a truck for days. They only needed a stab in the soft soil under the Crepe Myrtle and they were installed. A couple were planted in the deepest shade of the maple tree. Everything was watered several days in a row, to settle the soil and make sure the surrounding soil did not draw water from the fragile plants.
Instead of bulbs, Lilies-of-the-Valley grow pips on their underground stems. That means they can be divided and spread. They can grow together into a large mass that eventually discourages healthy plants and flowers. I remember ours at home in Moline, when my mother got out the pitch-fork to dig half of them up and replanted them. A rectangular area was eventually all grown in, not weedy or barren. We kept the garden hose there, and no one worried about smashing or harming the tough little plant.

Calladiums delight everyone with their color.

Rose-of-Sharon can become a tall, woody shrub.

 Hostas have twin virtues -
thriving and spreading in the shade,
flower stalks that attract Hummingbirds.
Nothing is wasted
A comment on the fragments gathered up after the Feeding of the Multitude echoes in all Creation gardening - "Nothing is wasted."
A bare patch of soil never lasts. Weeds or hardy herbs take over, hold the soil in place, and slowly improve the earth beneath and feed the soil creatures. Weeds will provide down for birds' nests, seeds for food.
Favorite foods for  birds - berries and seeds -  will be planted where those birds perch, so by eating they create new sources for themselves and pollinating insects.
The shadiest patch of ground offers an environment just right for plants that need shade to thrive, and the sunniest will support the sun and heat loving plants.
The soil is poor? Some herbs need poor soil.
The soil is dry? The Chaste Tree does not like watering.
Ignored by many casual onlookers, the plants above ground - from the trees to the lowliest wild flowers - shower the soil with debris: 
  • flower petals, 
  • leaves, 
  • dead insects, 
  • manure from the animals living among them.
The ocean of life in the soil, starting with bacteria and fungi, digest and recycle this debris to build a better home for themselves while feeding plant roots and millions of microbes and animals. Together they improve the soil by increasing the usable nutrition available in the root zone, where all plants feed.

 The tiny Borage flower is Bee Bread,
but it also increases the numbers of beneficial insects to its neighborhood.
Feeding insects, it drops seed to feed even more, always blooming and helping
itself and others.