Lilacs Lost


This has been a topsy-turvy year for the lilacs in our yard. Last summer I coddled and pampered our small stand of them, amending their home with fertilizer and some lime to keep the soil on the basic side. I watered them through the dry spells, careful not to wet the leaves or encourage mildew, and this winter their buds swelled and enlarged with the promise of bountiful blooms. They were just turning that dark purple to signify they were on the way when we had a night or two of deep-freeze weather. We wrapped them in plastic for the worst of it, but it was still not enough – the majority of buds were killed in the late hard frost. Strangely enough, the old-fashioned version that I’d pampered was the variety that suffered most of the kill-back, while the newer double ‘Miss Kim’ hybrid’s buds remained intact. I guess hybrids are sometimes hardier.

The lilacs seen here were the first of the season, and they appeared in Boston a few weeks ago. I pulled the branch on which they floated down to my face and breathed in the familiar, comforting scent of spring. The scent of hope and happiness, and all the returning good of the sun.

This summer I’ll pamper them again, because another spring will be back before we know it, and I’m hell-bent on bringing the blooms. Another lesson in gardening is in not giving up, no matter what. There are good years, and bad years, and everything in-between.

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