As May draws to a close, so has the blooming season for lilacs here, and what a glorious season it was. Each time I walked by our neighbors' large lilac, which borders our property, and caught a whiff of its scent, I was reminded of what my grandma told me years ago. She said that people used to plant lilacs near their doors so when people came to visit, they could enjoy the scent too, as they entered the house.
Our own lilac history began with a white double one I received for my birthday in the early '90s from my friend Jane.
She knew I loved lilacs. When we chose a planting spot for the white lilac, we decided to put it in a place that had lain bare for a few years. There had been a white peony there, planted by the original owners of our house, but had strangely disappeared a few years before.
The white lilac grew and bloomed for many years, until one day, a few weeks after the lilac season was over, I was mowing the lawn and something white caught my eye as I went past the lilac bush. I got off the mower and walked over to it and couldn't believe what I saw. White peony flowers! That silly peony had come back to life! It was so enmeshed with the now well-established lilac bush, there was no way to separate the two. We dubbed it the "Peolac" and they continue to co-exist to this day, both giving us beautiful white blooms in their own seasons.
The second lilac we planted was a Syringa meyeri. It was planted near the trellis, which at that time didn't have a garden surrounding it. Only the honeysuckle clambered up and over it. The lilac grew and became a very nice small green shrub, but it never bloomed. I mentioned it to my mom one day, and she said it was likely not receiving enough sun, so we moved it, and sure enough, the next year we were rewarded with beautiful blooms. (Another reason a lilac might not bloom is if they're pruned in the fall or early spring. Lilacs bloom on old wood, so the best time to prune is right after the flowering season has ended. Like now.)
Then my grandma decided we needed a Japanese Maple. (Oh YEAH, baby!!) Where to put it? The perfect place for it was ... oh, dear ... where the meyeri lilac was. And the lilac was in bud, ready to bloom. Sometimes you just have to make choices that aren't fun to make. We moved the lilac and miraculously, it didn't show a single sign of transplant shock and gave us beautiful lavender blooms for the next few weeks. Then it promptly died.
Two years ago, we bought another lilac, Syringa vulgaris 'Sensation', which has beautiful deep purple blooms with white picotee edges. This year, I bought another. So now we're surrounded by beautiful lilacs and in early May, we're rewarded with heavenly scents when soft breezes blow.
Perhaps the most unusual lilac we have was purchased last year. It's a cut-leaf lilac (Syringa laciniata) and it has a very lacy open look.
The foliage is graceful and reminds me a bit of Corydalis foliage, and its blooms are petite and fragrant. This shrub gives a very different look and provides a more attractive foliage than the common lilacs when it's not in bloom.
Each kind of lilac has its own little bloom season, one overlapping the other. While this extends the lilac season a bit, it's over all too soon.