For the love of lily
PUBLISHED: 09:13 29 March 2016 | UPDATED: 09:13 29 March 2016
J'aime le Muguet declares Suzie Abel, Jarrold's beauty buyer, as she falls in love again with lily-of-the-valley
DO YOU love lily-of-the-valley too? I think it is one of the prettiest and most delicate of flowers with a scent that is heady yet soft and subtle.
This is the time of the year when we discover the nodding sprigs of angelic white bells contrasting beautifully with the shiny green leaves that envelop them. It is hardly surprising that this dainty flower, which embraces both romance and opulence, is a favourite when choosing a bridal bouquet.
This shade-loving woodland plant has also been known as Lady’s Tears or Mary’s Tears, believed to have sprung from the ground following the Virgin Mary’s weeping at the crucifixion. Another name was Eve’s Tears, after she was driven from the Garden of Eden by God, and indeed in many religious paintings over the centuries the flower is used to symbolise humility.
Known as Muguet in France, at the beginning of the 20th century it was sold free of tax on Labour Day - La Fete du Muguet - to recognise the beginning of spring. Adored by Grace Kelly, it was the flower of choice in her simple bridal posy. Shane Connolly also created the subtle, understated design of the bridal bouquet for Catherine Middleton at her wedding to Prince William, which was made almost entirely of lily-of-the-valley with just a hint of Sweet William and hyacinth.
It is not an easy scent to reproduce in fragrance though and can often appear too sweet and overpowering, which is why it is often blended with other more muted notes. Some great classics are from Bronnley - an eau de toilette which is blended with white jasmine and musk; Yardley add freesia to their blend; and Crabtree & Evelyn use velvety mosses and hints of hyacinth. But there’s a new kid on the block with a rather more modern interpretation – Molton Brown’s Dewy Lily of the Valley & Star Anise range.
The star anise adds a sophisticated touch of intrigue together with a green meadow-like freshness to the top notes, while the lily-of-the-valley, peony and white tea blossom in the true floral heart, and silky ylang ylang and sandalwood linger for a tender, enduring finish.
The brand always links its collections to a specific destination and in this case it is London via Cornwall. The story behind this is that the flower is central to the Flora Day festival in Helston to mark the arrival of spring when the townspeople dress in white decorated with sprigs of the flower and dance through the streets (does the late, much-missed Terry Wogan come to mind?) Note to self - I must go and see this for myself one day! Molton Brown has combined with the London-based florists, The Flower Appreciation Society, to design a bespoke, hand-drawn illustration of the flower on the bathing collection bottles which look really beautiful too.
So throw out any preconceived ideas you have that this stunning flower with its delicious scent is in any way old fashioned, and come and try this mesmerising new Molton Brown range – it’s my new summer favourite.