Featured Flower: Lilac
It’s spring time and between the showers and sun, it’s perfect weather for flower watching. It seems like everywhere you look there is a new bit of living color popping up to say hello. But nothing says spring time like lilacs in bloom. Perhaps it is because they are so short lived (about 2 weeks of full bloom), that each day spent with these soft, fragrant beauties feels like a gift, a thanks for surviving winter.
Singly, the individual four-petaled flowerettes are quite delicate and rain down beautifully in the breeze. But together the blooms form substantial masses of color (in a loose shape) which can be captivating up close and provide a stunning block of color from a distance–making it a wonderful landscaping bush. Every spring our front yard becomes a neighborhood highlight (according to neighbors out walking their dogs or spouses) when the lilac is in full bloom. It’s really quite stunning and the bees love it.
This beautiful flowering bush, seemingly so familiar to American Gardens and landscaping, originated in the Ottoman Empire making its way west in the 16th century, into English gardens by Shakespeare’s time, and to the US in the 18th century. Once here, the flower made its way into our hearts and cultural conscience through songs like “Jeannine, I Dream of Lilac Time” which begins as follows:
“Lillacs in bloom, rarest perfume
Tells me that waiting is ended
Springtime is here soon you’ll be near
When all our heartaches are mended
Once more in happiest places
Close in my arm’s fond embraces…”
This flower is so universally loved that it even has a color named after it. Colors range from a pinky purple “lilac” to purple and white.The fragrance is sweet and heavenly, a bit like violets but softer like roses. Lilac fragance has been used in perfumes for centuries. The flower is associated with Spring, young love, and rebirth/renewal. In my experience, blooms tend to be short lived when cut, but they fill your home with a heavenly fragrance of hope and joy. If you have the chance, I would suggest planting a bush; it will bring you a happy surprise every spring for years to come.
Text and photos by Nadja Masura