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Let Lilac Love Flower

“From the Spring,” the poet Tennyson tells us “a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” He fails to say where a young lady’s fancy turns. I can speak only for myself, but each spring of my girlhood — as far back as I can remember — my fancy turned to thoughts of crime.

I am a reformed lilac thief.

I don’t wish to shift the blame or make excuses, but you should understand I had a deprived childhood, growing up in a house with no own lilac bush. And my assistants were pure: Lilacs were my mother’s favorite flower, and here in Michigan their blossom period almost always coincides with Mother’s Day. The church down the street had a magnificent bush, and each May, clutching my basket purse, I left my criminal pilgrimage.

My mother had no tolerance for thieving. When I was young I shoplifted just one bit of Brach’s candy. Upon discovering this (I stupidly asked what B-R-A-C-H-S spelled), my mother promptly turned the car around, marched me back to the supermarket and hauled me to the manager. He had been a softie and stated it was nice, it was nice, no big deal. But my mother was obdurate: It was not fine. Under her steely gaze I left my own sobbing apology and paid a dime, vowing never to slip again — and again, so far as shoplifting went, I kept it. My mother had frightened me directly.

And every spring, once I gave the exact same woman a bouquet of purloined posies, she obtained them with rapturous gratitude rather than ever challenged their provenance. Apparently in her publication, in regards to lilacs, there was no law. I am pleased to say that my entire life of crime ended when we moved to the nation and my mother planted a lilac part of our very own.

Dreamy Whites

Following my husband and I bought our first house, among the first things I did was plant a lilac bush on the southwest corner of the house, right outside our bedroom window. If it came into blossom, I would lie in bed and smell the heavenly odor. When we looked in our next house, I was pleased to observe a huge bush in the garden and a bigger one on the east side of this house that I could see and smell from our potential bedroom. I afterwards planted a third, and all three miraculously endured our fire.

Last April a writer I understand was leaving for a conference and bemoaned on Facebook her lilac was only blooming and could complete ahead of her return. I knew she was visiting a conference in my city several weeks after that and thought it only might line up with all our blossom time. I didn’t know her all that well but impulsively promised to deliver her some because the thought of somebody overlooking lilacs altogether was an unthinkable thought. The night prior to the conference, my lilacs were in their summit, and I fell off a beautiful bouquet in her hotel.

In Michigan spring can be so capricious. You never know exactly what you’re likely to get climate wise in April, but by early to mid-May, when the lilacs are blooming, you can be certain it is finally spring. Paradoxically, the hard winters and long dormancy provide what lilacs need. It’s commonly thought that lilacs can not survive in warmer climates due to the warmth, but it is the prolonged heat in combination with a mild winter. I was pleased to learn that there are a few varieties called “Southern bloomers” (though many of these were created in California) that do very well in warmer climates.

Pamela Bateman Garden Design

The common lilac isn’t the most attractive tree, also it takes up a lot of space. To me it is more than worth it of course, I have room for it. Luckily, there are many varieties available in a variety of colours and sizes as well as with staggered bloom times. My objective is to add several more varieties so I’ve flowers for weeks on end.

Rocco Fiore & Sons, Inc

If you want to put in a lilac to your garden — and I trust you do — you will find infinite possibilities. Lilacs thrive in USDA zones 3 to 9 (find your zone). If you’re in zones 9, be sure to select a “Southern bloomer” or just one marked for warmer climates. Lilacs need full sunlight, and once they’re set up, they are rather easy to take care of. They run the gamut on dimensions, from as small as 3 feet tall to stretching to 30 feet.

Pacific Ridge Landscapes Ltd

Dreamy Whites

I do understand a lilac of one’s own isn’t a possibility for everyone, for any number of factors. If this is you I advise throwing yourself into the arms of charity. Use the power of social networking — I am not joking. Look how that worked out for my friendly acquaintance, the writer.

Barbara Pintozzi

Ultimately, if all else fails, I can suggest some fiddling lilac thievery — that, if conducted properly, may not be a crime. Have a drive in the nation and eventually you will come across an abandoned farm, maybe with a ruins of a barn with just the rock foundation and a beautiful set of lilacs to indicate its former presence. Hippity-hop out of your vehicle and get to work.

Anita Diaz for Far Above Rubies

Despite the hardiness of this bush, the blossoms themselves are very delicate. Be certain to have a deep bucket full of lukewarm water in addition to a set of sharp trimmers. I smash the bottom of the branch with a hammer to ease the flow of water. Quickly strip the branch of leaves and then plunge it in the bucket. If you want a bit of greenery, pick some separately. Once you’re home, plunk them in anything. It’s impossible to arrange lilacs unattractively.

Love them with a clean conscience.

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