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Friday Flowers: Lilac

Posted Oct 22 2008 6:13pm
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!

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