Saturday, April 28, 2007

Lamenting the Lack of Lilacs

I love the smell of lilacs. I enjoy being outside and catching the scent of our next-door neighbor's bush as it drifts over to where I am. I'm thankful they let me cut all the blooms I want so that I can bring that luscious fragrance into my house. One bouquet can perfume the entire downstairs for days.

For all the love I feel for lilacs, you'd think we would have a few bushes of our own. Actually, we do, but none of the old-fashioned lilacs that make me giddy when I smell them.

The first one we ever had was a dwarf Meyer lilac (
Syringa meyeri 'Palibin'). It bloomed nicely the first year we planted it, but never again in the several years after. I learned that we had it in an area that didn't get enough sun, so we moved it and it rewarded us with blooms the next year!

Last spring, it was blooming nicely and then my grandma bought us a gorgeous Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum 'Emperor II'). The best place for the Japanese Maple was - you guessed it - right where we'd put the lilac. Against my better judgment, but not really having much of a choice, we once again moved the lilac. It seemed to survive the move, even though it was just starting to bloom at the time, but shortly after it finished flowering, it finished living, too.

About 15 years ago, my friend Jane gave me a white lilac for my birthday. Knowing it would get quite large eventually, we planted it in the bare spot where a peony once grew. The peony had disappeared many years before, so the lilac filled the spot nicely.

About ten years after we had planted the lilac, we noticed some white blooms, except that it had finished blooming a couple of weeks earlier. Upon closer inspection, the lilac was blooming peonies! You can imagine our shock and disbelief when we saw that the peony had come back after so many years of absence. I mean, think about it ... we had to dig pretty deep when we planted the lilac bush and we never encountered a single trace of that peony.

We have since enjoyed the succession of lilac and then peony blooms from what looks to be a 'leony' or 'peolac.' The lilac does appear to be in a state of decline while the peony continues to stage its comeback bigger and better each year. It will be interesting to see if one will eventually take over or whether they will continue to co-exist in the same spot.

This spring, with the unfortunate late and lengthy freeze we experienced, many of the flowering trees and shrubs were denied their normal leaf emergence and flowering period. Some, like our Cleveland pear, had beautiful flower buds only to have them blasted by the cold weather, resulting in very few of them progressing to full flower. The neighbor's lilac bush didn't fare well either. The entire lower two-thirds of the bush is devoid of any leaves and the new growth appearing on the upper third looks deformed. Sadly, there will be no lilac bouquets from it this year.

Lilacs are a hardy bunch and while we may not be able to enjoy their intoxicating scent this spring, they'll be back. I'll just pout a bit and settle for burning my Yankee Candle 'Lilac Blossoms.'


Carol Michel said...

The lilacs have taken a beating here as well. I am hoping that my 'Miss Kim' lilacs bloom at least a little bit.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

I just planted three lilacs, they were tucked safely in my garage during the freeze and seem to be doing very well in their new home. They will be blooming soon and I can't wait. I hope I have enough blooms this year for an inside bouquet; your is lovely.

David (Snappy) said...

I looked for a lilac tree for years before finding one.I bought it planted it, and waited.The first year was just leaves.I then moved out of the house leaving the lilac tree.It has actually flowered this year.I read they hate being transplanted once they are settled.Is it better to buy a new one or disturb the roots of an established one?I am waiting for my next garden (as im in a flat with no garden or balcony :(
Lilac is on my wishlist now.I will try to use the blooms for a cutflower to fragrance a room.
At least you can buy candles and oils that smell vaguely like lilac.
Hope next year the lilacs fair better.

Unknown said...

The lilac and peony combo is a great story! I can't believe that the peony staged a comeback, either. I wish that they would both coexist for you... that's a fun picture. :)

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

How disappointing, no lilacs to put in a vase. I used to do that too, when hubby and I were living in our first home together where there were 2 lilac trees in the garden, 1 white and 1 blue. They were old trees and flowered every year with masses of blooms. Wonderful! I hope to buy a white lilac tree next year for my garden.

Kilim said...

Lilacs are my favorite flowers. I love them

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