Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday Flowers: Lilac

The Time of the Lilacs

Becka was in Mexico from March to June last year and missed the lilac blooms in our garden. Yesterday, she was on the deck on a cold, damp day, admiring the beauty and smell of our new blossoms and said, "I haven't seen these for two years!" Last year I emailed her pictures of the flowers that were opening, but no one has yet invented a "smell file" for the computer that would capture their lovely scent.

We had planted a small, potted lilac bush beside the deck when we moved here in 1987. Becka was a little baby and she has grown with the lilac. It is now 5 or 6 metres high and provides shade and protection for the birds and for people sitting outdoors. The rose-breasted grosbeaks that visited recently would retreat to this bush when they were startled from the feeders.

I was surprised to find that these are not native plants. The Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris) is a member of the olive family, and grows wild in the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe. Driving in the country around here, it is not uncommon to see large lilac bushes with mauve or white flowers growing along the roadside. Unlike other non-native species, these have not spread to the detriment of other native shrubs. It is the state flower of New Hampshire.

The lilac blossoms last only a few days, especially if the weather turns warm. This Monday is Victoria Day in Canada, our first long weekend of the summer season. The weather is supposed to be a little cool, so I will be able to sit out and enjoy the lilacs at their peak in my garden.

Post Script ~ I added this for Laura from Somewhere in NJ. She commented on her white lilac bush that fragrances her garden inspite of having few blooms. These were planted along the river within the city. There were purple, mauve and white lilacs in mass plantings together. Beautiful!


  1. Cathy- Thanks for alerting me to the comments problem. I will copy your comment her later. :-)

  2. Mmm...I can alomost smell your blossoms. Ours are just about done here. There really isn't another flower perfume like lilacs is there?

  3. Ahhh... if only to have that smell file....

  4. Beautiful lilacs! It's wonderful to get a whiff of them. I learned recently at a landscaping for wildlife lecture that Korean & Canadian lilacs will bloom later in the season and are good for attracting butterflies (and we can grow them in zone 4) more chances for lilac blossoms into the summer.

  5. Anonymous5:14 pm GMT-4

    I couldn't find the comment button on your latest post on lilacs - perhaps my favorite flower. In northern Ohio the bloom is faded so it's so nice to reflect once again on the fragrance of lilacs. I can imagine Becka's longing for them.

  6. I don't have a proper lilac bush, so must *borrow* the cut blossoms from roadside shrubs.

    I have a white-blooming lilac that is struggling in the shade and each year produces just two flowers, yet they manage to perfume the whole garden.

  7. I have a very sweet memory of lilacs--on the college campus where I attended, there were lilac bushes. When they bloomed in the spring, the fragrance wafted all over campus.

  8. Lynne- Ours are going to be done quickly. In our northern climate, there are few blossoms more fragrant.

    Jayne- You will be rich and famous if you can invent that smell file!

    RuthieJ- I have another type of lilac bush that blooms in June. It is not as fragrant, but perhaps it is one of the varieties you mention. When it blooms, I will post the picture.

    Laura- I added a white lilac for you :-)

    KGMom- That is a nice campus memory. They likely bloomed at the end of term, making them all the sweeter!

  9. Thanks for the white lilacs, Ruth! That was sweet of you.


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