Friday, May 16, 2008

My Favorite Flower

This is one of my favorite flowers. I love it in its wild form (maianthemum canadense or Canadian Mayflower) as well as its horticultural form (convallaria majalis). The dainty white belled flowers are beautiful, and I particularly enjoy their sweet yet subtle fragrance. I don't see them that often where I live, so when I was walking home from the gym, and spotted them the other night, I could not resist picking a sprig. Both varieties bloom in early May, and last only a short time.

Wild lily of the valley with bunch berry (sometimes called dog wood)

Horticultural lily of the valley. Frequently used as ground cover.

In college, I took a plant taxonomy course as part of my Environmental Studies major. The summer before the semester began, we were sent home with flower presses. Our assignment was to go through the woods, meadows, and shorelines where ever we were and take samples of wild flowers, and preserve them using the press. It was the summer of 1986, and I was living in Machias, Maine at the time. I remember finding varieties of dandelion-like composites I didn't know existed, and flowers in the lily family that took my breath away, some of them quite rare. It was on one of my treks in the woods that I came across wild lily of the valley and bunch berry. When the fall semester began, we took our preserved flowers and by way of delicate dissections identified them. Trying to get a look at the ovaries of a tiny flower to ascertain the shape, sometimes the tie breaker in identifying one variety from another, was challenging to say the least.

As a Mother's Day gift the following May, I mounted my remaining samples of lily of the valley on acid free paper, and framed it. My mother loved it, as did I. Enough so that I have considered collecting and preserving some flowers, and mounting them for myself.



Fusion said...

Interestingly to me, maybe not others, is that I have a favorite flower, the Jasmine. I love the scent of it on a warm summer night. I'm hard to pin down on favorites otherwise, like music, movies, and the such.

I'm wondering if you took those photos as well Rebecca?

Rebecca said...

Hi, Fusion. No, I did not take these photos. I did take the ones farther down of magnolia, forcythia, etc.

My mother in law grows lavender. It is wonderful to smell that wafting through the house!

Maria said...

I have lily of the valley in my back yard and the scent makes me tearful sometimes.

You just sort of sink into it, don't you?

SOUL: said...

how pretty-- at first i thought .. gardenia-- i love that smell.. but dogwood -- yes.. love them too--
not a flower person here-- love to look--and smell.. don't know names of almost any. not by lookin anyhow.
and i vcan't grow a thing to save my own life.
anyhow-- have a great day today--

The Real Mother Hen said...

Ahhh I saw that Lily of the Valley in a doctor's office once... it looks so great indoor, hhmmm I may try to get one :)

The World According to Me said...

Love the horticultural lily of the valley.

I like the sound of the flower pressing. I wouldn't mind having a go at that myself.

Kate said...

Oh, I love Lilies of the Valley, and they don't grow out here. :( Simon made me a flower press years ago, and I spent hours wandering around in the mountains, pressing stuff. It was fun, and they often turned out to be kind of pretty.

Foster Communications said...

Pressing flowers does sound like fun! V. v. cool!

seagrape said...

love love love lily of the valley. reminds me of my wedding day :)

simonsays said...

I am finally getting to catch up with you and your posts. I have missed you, girl!

I hope all is well in your world.

Post, will ya?



Eastcoastdweller said...

What a gorgeous post, Rebecca! You hit right into some of my favorite interests -- botany, taxonomy, wildflowers, what's not to love?

I, too, took a plant identification class back in college, as an elective. Boy, did I ever struggle, a lone communications major in a sea of zoology and science students, but it was worth every minute.

To this day, I love making discoveries of wildflowers, taking their pictures, learning their names and the use that birds, insects and other creatures make of them.

I don't visit Your blog as often as I should, Rebecca, but every time that I do, I take away treasure.