May’s official flower, one of the most beautiful, delicate, and fragrant spring flowers, the Lily-of-the-Valley, was mentioned by John Lawrence in “The Flower Garden” (1726) as having the “sweetest and most agreeable perfume.”
Also known as May lily, May bells, lily constancy, ladder-to-heaven, and fairy ladders, Lily-of-the-Valley is a low-growing perennial plant that makes an excellent ground cover. It usually has two large oblong leaves and small, bell-shaped flowers, making it a popular choice for bridal corsages, bouquets and centerpieces.
According to folklore, Lily-of-the-Valley flowers sprouted up from Eve’s tears after she was “kicked out” of the Garden of Eden. Similarly, Christian legend tells of Mary’s tears turning to Lily-of-the-Valley when she cried at the cross. Because of this reference, the flowers have been called Mary’s tears. The name “ladder to heaven” was given to the plant by medieval monks who observed the way the flowers grew evenly up the stalk, symbolizing steps to heaven.