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Lily of the Valley

Lily-of-the-valley, a diminutive little cream- or pink- tinged, bell-shaped flower, enjoys the refuge of shady locations in the garden. It is not one of those flowers that grabs your attention, but rather one needs to bend close to it to perceive its delicate Lily of the Valleybeauty and inhale its elegant rich perfume. In it is one of those plants that when it finds a home it likes, will thrive with relatively little care and produce an abundance of small stemmed flowers from year to year but if it does not find the environment to its liking, will quickly disappear.

Hundreds of years ago this plant was loved and admired in European countries where it was found growing abundantly in cool temperature woodland environments. Rich symbolic associations arose in relationship to them and often beautiful legends and stories came into being with flowers such as lily of the valley as their main theme. Symbolically, in Christian tradition, Lily of the Valley embodied the quality of humility and often was used in religious paintings to connote this quality. It also was given other charming names in different countries such as May Lily, Ladder to Heaven, May Bells, Muguet, etc.

The aroma of the Lily-of-the-valley is one that has captivated perfumers for several hundred years. In reading through Steffen Arctander's masterful work-Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin-it seems that very little if any authentic Lily of the Valley Absolute was ever extracted. In the modern times, the production of a genuine Lily-of-the-valley absolute is out of the question.

Still this particular aroma was at one time highly valued because of the emotional impact the flowers produced on those smelling them. In making ones own perfume much depends on how the flower of the living plant, the environment in which it is growing, etc impact ones consciousness. To my nose the flower displayed a warm, soft, powdery, sweet floral odor, with green, honeyed undertones with just a hint of a roseaceos-citrus accord.  Smelling the flowers has a very soothing and softening effect on the heart and mind opening up quiet vistas of gentle beauty and sweetness.

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