Diary entry April 20, 2012: "Mowed grass for the first time this year - the earliest that I have ever had to cut grass."
While mowing, I noticed that flowers are escaping from my wife Mary Alice's flower beds and invading our lawn and driveway. Although I'm far from a lawn perfectionist, I want the flowers to stay in their beds. I feel that the dandelion flowers have provided enough color in the lawn.
We all know what weeds are; however, one person's weeds could be another person's wildflowers.
Some of the escaping flowers are the pink and blue Forget-me-nots, which belong to the genus Mypsptos, a Greek word meaning "mouse ears" and named after the leaf. The common name comes from a German legend, in which after God had named the plants, a tiny unnamed plant cried out, "God, Forget-me-not, O Lord." God replied, "That shall me your name."
Another plant is the lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), a perennial plant that forms extensive colonies by spreading underground. This plant also has spread from the flower garden into our lawn area.
During the summer months, new shoots are formed at the root ends. In the spring, the upright dormant stems, which are known as pips, grow into new leafy shoots that still remain connected to the underground shoots.
The flowers are white and bell-shaped (rarely pink), sweetly scented and highly poisonous. Although deadly, the plant has been used in folk remedies; however, it was used in moderate amounts.
If the plant is touched or handled, hands should be washed before doing anything else. Our word lily comes from the Latin word lilium, meaning "white."
The common name lily of the valley comes from an old Irish tale, where, on one night, five little fairy sisters were sent on an errand, each with a tiny white cup, which was to be filled with dew for the queen's breakfast.
Instead of filling the cups with dew, the fairy sisters hung them on a blade of grass and then they danced and played.
Before they knew it, the sun was about to rise. Because no fairy must be caught away from home at sunrise, they ran to get their cups; however, the handles had grown fast to the blade of grass.
The fairy sisters became frightened. Then, their godmother appeared and, to protect the little girls from the queen's wrath, she tied a large green leaf on either side of the cups, forming a ladder to hide them.
The five little girl fairies played, going up and down the ladder until it wore out; however, when spring came the next year, up came the ladder (the flowers), and the little girls screamed with joy to see the ladder as shiny as ever, with fresh paint on the white steps.
When St. Patrick brought Christianity to Ireland, many old ways and legends were changed, and the Fairy Ladder became known by either the Ladder to Heaven or Ascension Ladder.
The lily of the valley was dedicated to Whitsunday because of its pure white blossoms. It became a holy flower, with children gathering the flowers by the handfuls for bouquets to be placed on the Shrine of the Virgin.
To this very day, the lily of the valley still is called the Fairy Ladder by many Irish people.
Add the two of these flowers to the bleeding hearts, poppies, lambs' ear and other varieties that also have escaped and, in time, I won't have much of a lawn to mow.
Bower retired after 34 years as a wildlife conservation officer for the state Game Commission. He has published several books about his experiences. Questions and comments may be sent to him at 153 Redington Ave., Troy PA 16947.