Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Planting Lily of the Valley from pips

One of the oldest, to me, of the old-fashioned flowers is Lily of the Valley. Its delicate aroma puts me in mind of old brick houses, cameos and little sun-washed forest glens -- not a typical combination I know!

In any case, in thinking about what perennials to add back into the Pugsley yard, as an early 19th century farmhouse, Lily of the Valley was near the top of my list.

In our area of northern suburban New York city, you see Lily of the Valley naturalized in a shady area of people's gardens. They seem most happy under high shade, nestled at the foot of oaks or sometimes certain old, high pines. But I've also seen them under privet hedges, under flowering ornamental trees, and on the shady side of houses. I don't have a lot of high shade, but back in the back corner of the yard, in front of the compost pile, there is a row of Rose of Sharon bushes. You can see them here, in a row, just to the left of the pine tree. It's an area that does get high shade all summer and sun all winter and the grass doesn't grow well, but violets seem happy. And so after my first year in the house, this seemed to me to be the best possible location for some Lily of the Valley.

They were one of the first things I ordered this winter. You can buy whole potted plants for indoors or what are called pips. Pips were less expensive, and ultimately, I thought, perhaps more likely to naturalize successfully, so pips it was.

They came in a package of six pips in early April and I dutifully looked for a video on YouTube about how to plant them, which I found here. It looked pretty simple, and on one of the days when I suited up in my long johns to attack the north border, I took a half hour to plant them. Here's the spot:

Here are my six holes. Since I'm planting them in and among the roots of the Rose of Sharon, I didn't dig any large holes or try to amend the soil much. I want them to naturalize in the soil I've got. So I just dug six holes, each a little larger than the root ball:

Here's one nestled into its spot:

And another, smaller one:

Then I covered them back up with dirt and then with the leaf mold. I pulled any weeds I saw and watered them, and waited. And waited. And waited.

This weekend they sprouted! So I weeded around them again, and given the advice on YouTube, I will keep them watered this first summer. And hopefully, they'll settle in and naturalize -- voila, Lily of the Valley.

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