A Love of Lilacs

Lilacs were one of my favorite flowers growing up, and remain so to this day. The aroma alone is enough to conjure memories of fresh Spring days, the promise of summer, and romantic entanglements worthy of Gatsby himself. Almost everyone has a lilac memory, a time when a row or hedge of the pastel flowers crossed our Spring paths, seducing all in their fragrant embrace. Like peonies, they are pungent and long-lived, instilling themselves in our past, emblazoning the moment with their perfume.

There is an essence both of innocence and romance in a lilac, and in their short-lived season of bloom, a wistful sense of fleeting wonder. I’ve read of new varieties that promise a decent re-bloom, but I’m partial to the old-fashioned stand-bys, where the true fragrance consistently remains. We’ve got a double version given to us by Andy’s Mom, which I’ve grown to love. The doubles also seem to hide the browning edges better than the single version. It is also powerfully fragrant, which will always be the most important part of a lilac.

I’ve also planted a couple specimens of the Korean lilac – a smaller, bushier version with a slightly later, and longer, bloom time. Though the blossoms are decidedly smaller, and erring on shades of pink rather than lavender, there are quite a few more of them, and their scent carries closer to the ground.

A hint on using lilacs as a cut flower: pick them in the middle of the night, or the very earliest of morning, then smash their stems to allow them to pull up as much water as possible. They may droop a little, but should come back if given a few hours to recover. The fragrance can fill a room with memories.

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