Syringa Vulgaris

It is Lilac season here. Lilacs are my favorite. I have lots of favorites actually. Call me fickle, I don’t care much for labels, it’s all just a matter of fleeting opinions. Syringa Vulgaris, the common shepards’s flute are a very special kind of favorite due to the way they make me feel when I breathe the air that they exist in, and it has been that way all my life. Before I understood the changing seasons, and despite my mother’s reassurance that they would return next spring, I tearfully mourned the faded flowers. I recall checking for blossoms that summer while the plant remained solemn and green; a year is a long time in the life of a child. The house we moved to when I was three had no Lilacs, but the farm next door did. I pestered my mother until she eventually got a bucket full of runners to start on our property. I was a weird kid.

A year ago, on a particular holy day, I was called to a peculiar holy place and I had a magical experience that helped to explain my affection for these flowers. It would have brought me infinite peace, if this life would have turned out different. If my life hadn’t been taken over by a pirate, if I could have found a way to exist in heaven and not fallen in the hell-pit hole that is love.

Our current neighborhood is full of old houses most of them displaying a well-established stand of Lilacs. Some of them reaching heights over twenty feet, all of which resemble heavenly scented mountains, in an infinite array of the color purple at this time. We stop at each bush, bury our faces in the blossoms and breathe like we can suck the violet essence from its tiny, trumpet resting place; sometimes greedily pinching a handful petals to enjoy along the way.

A walk down the sidewalk instantly transforms into a blissful meditation in their presence. They make such a beautiful hedge, but my favorite is when they’ve been trimmed up to expose their legs, or turned into adorable little Dr. Seuss style trees. Often I am filled with gratitude for the gardeners who nurture the flowers and pull the weeds. How can this world be so beautiful? Thanks God <3

Our personal Eden shares a lilac hedge with the neighbor. It once had its legs exposed but is getting pretty gnarly and in need of a serious pruning. I don’t know who it belongs to and am not sure how to approach the subject with our slightly eccentric neighbor who moved in last year. A large, single black woman and her little barking dog; she tried to transport her garden from downstate when she moved, but very little of it survived. You have to bring in topsoil (expensive) or amend with compost for years (time-consuming) to have a proper garden in these parts, which is why I am unwilling to just mow over the raised gardens in this yard. Dirt is a valuable commodity around here.

The property line we share with the abandoned lot also has a little stand of lilacs run amuck. They have crept under the fence and are taking over what was once a raised rhododendron bed. Well, it still is, but those azaleas are in a sad, sorry state and the rhododendrons are all but dead. I did some vicious pruning this week, and may just cut them back to almost nothing and see what comes back. Spider mites apparently love azaleas. I would have been sad dealing with the wreckage of that little corner of the garden if not for all the happy little lilac volunteers who are just loving that amended topsoil, some even bloomed out this year even though they are less than waist-high. Thanks to my little lilac nursery, I have plenty to incorporate into the gardens around here and some to share as well. Lilacs everywhere!