Living Dangerously With Lilies of the Valley


Today I bought a Lily of the Valley plant at the Carleton Place Horticultural Plant Sale at  the Victoria School Gardens.  I used to have 100s in the yard, but through the year they have disappeared. Not only is it my favourite flower, but I love the idea that it is what I would call a cocky little plant and a little dangerous.
Toxicity is the plant’s defense against animals eating its seeds. All parts of the plant—the stems, the leaves, the flowers and the berries—are extremely poisonous and close to 40 different cardiac glycosides have been found in the plant so far.


museumxxx.jpgPhoto by Jennifer Fenwick Irwin


Don’t munch on it unless blurry vision, diarrhea, vomiting and nausea, disorientation, drowsiness, headaches, red skin rashes, excessive salivation, sudden alterations in your cardiac rhythm and possible death sound like your idea of fun.
When I got married in 1974 all the greenery in my bouquet was from Lilies of the Valley in my Grandmother’s garden. I guess I’m a sociopath on some level because I thought it was sort of great to carry around a poisonous plant all day.



Photo by Jennifer Fenwick Irwin

So why do I really like this plant? Is it just because of its secret side? When my mother died at the age of 34 my father gave me her suitcase after she passed away in 1963. When I opened up the blue Samsonite suitcase a few days later a bottle of her perfume Coty’s Lily of the Valley had broken inside it. For years after when I opened it it still smelled of Lily of the Valley and her memories. So today I planted more to remember the past remember that even if I am aging- I can still live on the dangerous side.:)


Photo by Linda Seccaspina

If you need any of these plants– Darrylene from My Hobby Farm has them on Saturdays at the Carleton Place Farmers Market

Don’t forget to visit the Victoria School kept by the Carleton Place Horticultural Society. They are just beautiful and get lusher each week. Bring a lunch and enjoy the tranquility.


Photo by Linda Seccaspina


Related reading

What Justin Bieber is Missing by Not Coming to Carleton Place

Gardening 2016–From Herbs to Edible Flowers?

Have you Ever Held a Transplant in your Hands?

Buy Your Flowers from the Carleton Place Employees of the Month

Home and Garden Before Home and Garden Magazine

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

4 responses »

  1. Beautiful Story Linda:
    I associate it with starting School. I started in a one room school Called Black Creek School , on the hwy between Smiths Falls and Perth ,The foundation was surrounded by Lilly of the Valley and like yours my mother loved it as well as Forget me Knots .


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