Sunday, May 3, 2009

Our Lady's Lace

Marian Name: Our Lady's Lace
Common Name: Sweet Woodruff
Botanical Name: Galium odoratum

The lacy Sweet Woodruff in the rain...This season the Mary Garden will feature a shade garden and one of its stars will be the delicate ground cover, Sweet Woodruff. Now in bloom in my own garden, I will be borrowing a bit for the Mary Garden and transplant it in the upcoming week. Because it is not an invasive ground cover ( at least in my garden), I allow the Woodruff to wander where it will. I love the way it forms a lacy skirt beneath other shade lovers such as Astilbe, Japanese Painted Fern (Athyrium niponicum ‘Pictum’) and Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla mollis). In the Mary Garden it will be featured with Hosta plantaginea "Royal Standard," a Hemerocallis (Daylily) called "Mary's Gold," the aforementioned Alchemilla mollis (Lady's Mantle), Adiantum pedatum (Maidenhair fern), Dicentra spectabilis (Bleeding Heart) and Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove). More shade lovers will be added as the garden progresses.

Sweet Woodruff does tend to die back a bit in extreme summer heat but comes back again when the wheather cools down. The leaves, when crushed, give off a sweet scent. In Germany, it is the basis for May Wine and has been used as a perfume base as well as a flavoring for tea and in potpourris.

According to legend, Sweed Woodruff was among the dried plants, herbs and flowers used as bedstraw for a couch on which Mary could repose. After the birth of Jesus, the dried plants turned green again and burst into bloom with tiny scented flowers.

Although Galium verum is usually referred to as Our Lady's Bedstraw, occasionally, that name is also applied to Sweet Woodruff.


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