Where scattered wild the Lily of the Vale/Its balmy essence breathes
--James Thomson, The Seasons, Spring, 1728
Lily-of-the-Valley, also known as Our Lady's Tears and Fairy Ladders, is such a shy little flower, virtually hiding its petite, white, bell-shaped blooms under broad green leaves. The scent is subtly sweet yet a little intoxicating. Our shady yard has lots of these old-fashioned flowers hidden here and there, under shrubs and ferns, and crowding along the back fence. Each spring, I look forward to bringing in a small nosegay of Lilies-of-the-Valley to freshen the living room or the dining room if only for a few days.
Such charming little blossoms, yet Lily-of-the-Valley is a very hardy ground cover. It spreads easily in the right conditions; some people even consider it a weed. So white and innocent -- isn't it hard to believe that it is also poisonous? Maybe that accounts for another name for the flower -- Ladder-to-Heaven.