My first memory of stopping to acknowledge the wondrous fragrance that filled my head was when I was very young, just old enough to be wobbling around on unsteady legs behind my brother. I rounded a corner and was struck still by the scent, the buzz of the bees and the perfect, ice cream cone-shaped boughs of glory. Their name is their color and their scent.

In Lunenburg, the entrance to the property was guarded from the road by ancient lilac bushes. Deep purple with a few renegade whites mixed in, I would check their progress every day on my way to the mailbox. Finally, I could wait no longer and I began lopping off their heavy blooms and filling dozens of vases. But I was always too eager and impatient. The girls had a running joke, “Mom! Don’t pick them yet!!”

The first year of home owe-nership here, my mother asked what she could do for my birthday. I replied, “Buy me a lilac bush, not just any but an old-fashioned, heirloom that will  perfume my world in Spring!”  The bush was delivered and I planted it, not where it wanted to be, but where I wanted it. We have fought ever since. It is fragile and delicate, nothing like the monstrous forests of ancient lilacs from the past. It also blooms long after the rest of the lilacs in the world have given up.

This year it finally blossomed with a spectacular cloud of cones. Perhaps the bees are to be thanked, or it just gave up taunting me. I waited patiently then filled jars and pitchers, vases and wine glasses. Each was carefully placed so the slightest breeze from an open window or my wake as I walk past, fills the air with sensory memories.


28 thoughts on “Lilacs”

  1. lilacs are my favourite, too! home owe-nership, that’s funny! i did the same, first thing i planted on my property were lilac bushes that now bloom what you so delightfully describe as purple ice cream boughs of glory. 🙂

      1. i’m at the opposite corner of the continent, the north west, near vancouver north of seattle. the scent of lilacs literally makes me swoon, i keep threatening to write a romance novel called The Lilacs of Lillooet. 🙂

  2. We had a beautiful one when the children were little. It was so heavy it split in two but still blossomed profusely. I took a huge bunch to St Thomas’ hospital in London on the train and tube when my son was ill and they still allowed flowers in the children’s ward. Lovely memories. Like the smell and taste of making raspberry jam.

  3. Wonderful post, Martha. Scent is so deeply primitive a thing that words recall it it technicolor. I planted them strategically too, but they don’t waft in so easily. You’re farther north, but ours haven’t bloomed yet in Western Pennsylvania.. Waiting eagerly…..

    1. Beth I’m surprised you are behind of us in terms of blooming, it would seem your Spring would be way before us. You are so right about scent being a deeply primitive sense. Thank you!!

      1. Tried the lilac perfume thing. The scents I’ve found aren’t “true” and were usually a real disappointment. (and turned sickly on the skin) If you find a good one let us all know.

  4. Nice to read things about warmer and more fragrant places. Cold here in Melbourne, dead of winter, short days, everything is in greyscale, so nice to see and read your post!

    1. Thanks for dropping by Mark. I forget that you are always the exact opposite of us season-wise. After last winter, I am thoroughly enjoying the warmth and sun. Bees are buzzying, birds are singing and everyone is smiling!!

    1. Yes Joanne! That was exactly what I was hoping my mom would give me. The deep, dark purple ones are so lovely. What I ended up with still brings such joy when we aren’t fighting over whether it will live or die!!

  5. Lilacs are one of my favourites. We have one at the top of the drive, given to me by a friend as a cutting from hers. It’s been and gone this year but for those few short weeks it was glorious.

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