Lilacs in Bloom

Lilac Up Close

The beginning of this second week of May finds the lilacs in bloom. One can see the lovely purple or white flowers swaying in the breeze, and can smell the sweet aroma wafting by. For myself, and for many of us, these bushes in bloom bring out happy childhood memories of time outside in the warming weather of spring - a harbinger of the end of the truly cold season.

These bushes are, and have been, very popular throughout our region. One can find them - and often in profusion - in many, if not most, of the yards of the older farmhouses in the region. A smaller house down the road from us actually has hedgerow covering its fence line consisting entirely of lilac bushes. While the lilac is not native to North America, it's apparently been here nearly as long as European settlers have been coming to stay in earnest.

Our old house has three lilac bushes - one white, two purple. They have been here as long as I can remember, and based on their size, likely considerably longer still. They bloom every year, reliably, about this time. And they offer this gift despite the apparent neglect I've been engaging in towards them, as one should purportedly prune them every year. Next month will mark the beginning of our eighth year in the homestead, and it will also mark the eight straight year in which exactly zero pruning of the sort described in the link has occured.

White Lilac

My Grandma Marie spent a considerable time working on things in the yard - in her garden and otherwise. It is certainly possible - tho I don't recall it - that she diligently pruned these bushes each year. But in more recent seasons benign neglect has been the law of the land.

Back yard purple lilac

Which isn't to say they've had no attention at all, despite the rough condition of the bush above. The nature of how they grow allows for things to take seed and root inside the bushes, and we do spend time each season removing those interlopers. And given the age of our lilacs, each season I do spend time extracting dead material. Lilacs can apparently live a couple of hundred years, depending on the variety, so it's possible that these have been here nearly as long as the house itself. I say nearly because, in the case of at least one of the bushes...:

No lilacs yet...

Whether it was John Foulk and his immediate family who planted them sometime after taking that picture, or a later generation, it's clear that these bushes have been here for many decades at least, and each year blooming to herald the coming of the warm season.