Q&A: Plants for a new garden

Lily of The Valley
Lily of The Valley
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Q: My mother has always had lily-of-the-valley growing in her garden and now I have moved into a new home – with a new garden – she has given me some pieces of plant. What is the best way to make sure it grows well?

A: Lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) sounds such an old-fashioned plant that it comes as a bit of a surprise to learn that it is still extremely popular in today’s gardens.

But once you take a look – and a sniff – at its lovely, sweet-scented, bell-shaped blooms, then it is understandable. It thrives in damp, shady places where it can spread quickly to cover the ground. So beware – this is an invasive plant.

If you think it may be a problem in your new garden, put it in a pot or other suitable container where its invasive tendencies will be restricted.

If you do decide to grow it outdoors, in the ground, then it will appreciate a top-dressing of leafmould in autumn.

And if you want a variety which will grow higher than nine inches or so, there’s always ‘Fortin’s Giant’, which reaches a slightly-less-than-impressive 12 inches in height. The variety C majalis ‘Flore Pleno’ produces double flowers.