Happy May Day!

Two great deals around for a short time …

Tauranga’s Garden and Artfest is offering a Mothers’ Day special – buy a 4-day pass before May 13 for only $50 (normally $65). The ticket also includes unlimited entry to Bloom in the Bay which will be at the new Festival Hub at the Historic Village. The festival is from November 15-18. Full details here.

The New Zealand Flower & Garden Show, which debuted in Auckland last year, has opened its earlybird ticket purchase today ($28/$26) – tickets valid for ‘any day’ entry. Purchase before May 18 and go into a draw to win a lunch out. The show is from November 28-December 2. Full details here.

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A young woman offers a bouquet of lily of the valley to a police officer during the traditional May Day demonstration in Toulouse, southern France, on May 1, 2016. 

And we can’t let May 1 go by without noting a lovely tradition in France – it’s a public holiday celebrating the nation’s workers (La Fête du Travail) but is also known as La Fête du Muguet (Lily-of-the-valley Festival).

The floral tradition is supposed to have begun when King Charles IX of France was presented with a posy of lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis) on May 1, 1561 as a token of luck and prosperity for the coming year. He liked the idea so much he decided to present the fragrant flowers to the ladies of his court each year on May 1.

There was also an old European tradition of “bals de muguet” or Lily-of-the-Valley dances; once a year, this was a chance for young singles to meet without having their parents’ permission. The girls would dress in white and the boys wear a sprig of muguet as a buttonhole. In about 1900, men started to present the flowers to women to express their affection, although these days they are a more general token of appreciation between close friends and family members.

Families in country areas get up early and go into the woods to pick the flowers.  Individuals and labour organizations are able to sell bouquets of lily-of-the-valley on the street on May 1 without paying tax or complying with retail regulations! Read more about May Day celebrations in France.

Some good growing advice here (northern seasons) from Carol Klein, who notes that like many prolific plants, lily-of-the-valley can be difficult to establish.

lily of the valley

Beloved of spring brides – remember Kate Middleton’s lovely bouquet?

If you live in the Tauranga area and would like to learn French, have a look at the French with Shelley website. She’s a great teacher and will immerse you in French culture too (how do you think I know about La Fête du Muguet?).

Joyeux le premier Mai!