Lush Lilacs

Along with most of the U.S., we’ve had an extraordinarily sunny week here on the Olympic Peninsula!

Growing lilacs, or Syringa, is new to me. We’re fortunate to have two large bushes, one of which has grown to arch overhead, and five young bushes, most of which have blooms just opening.

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Whoever chose the location for the large bush did well, as its fragrance wafts up to the deck from its spot outside the ground floor lawn area. It is trained into an arch opposite a viburnum.

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The younger lilac bushes are planted on the sunny slope of garden between the perennial beds and the greenhouse where the soil is slightly pebbly and not super rich. Thankfully, lilacs are low maintenance and thrive in poor soil, which could be why that location was chosen.

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I await the full color reveal, since there seem to be varieties in all stages of budding, which hopefully means we are in for couple weeks of blooms. It would be nice if one bush blooms white; I love white in the garden.

Lilacs have a sweet scent which for many people brings back a flood of memories of grandparents, springtime and years gone by. I was presented with just one enormous lilac bouquet in my life, from a friend while living in San Diego in the early 90’s. I’m pretty sure she brought it from a cooler, mountain town about an hour inland called Julian, where the apples and lilacs grow in profusion.  Lilacs don’t thrive in Southeastern Virginia, so I haven’t had the opportunity to grow them before. The closest thing to lilacs we grew in VA was our chaste tree, which had gorgeous purple pyramidal clusters of blossoms, but didn’t have the heady aroma lilacs are cherished for.

Lilacs are classified as shrubs, though many people prune them into trees since they can grow to a whopping 20 feet in height. They came to us from Europe and are actually part of the olive family. Lilacs have the distinction of being one of those rare plants that have a color named after them, or perhaps they were named after a color. Lavender, violet, and rose are three others, and all four are edible and can be candied or used in baked goods and jellies. Perhaps I’ll try my hand at candied lilacs or this recipe for lilac-infused vodka when the blossoms open. Looks like I have all the makings for an adult tea party!

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