Friday, May 25, 2018
On the old farm where I spent most of my formative years growing from child into a young adult, there was an old fashioned lilac bush growing near the kitchen stoop. Every spring it would be filled with purple blossoms and fill the air with its scent. Mom would often send us out there to clip a few of the blossoms for a vase on the kitchen table.
But it seems to be a flora that is falling out of favor as I don't see many of them anymore. Here in town I know where there are a few bushes here and there but back when I was growing up, they were on every single farmstead in the area. When we moved to our current house with a couple acres of land, I finally had the room to plant more things and decided one of those things would be a lilac bush.
At first (and until recently), I wasn't sure what I needed to buy to get a plant like what we used to have growing on the old farm. The first one we bought turned out to be a dwarf bush and the blossoms were not the same, nor nearly as fragrant as I remembered. So when we bought the trees from an Arbor Day special a few years back, it came with four free bushes of your choice and one of those choices was labeled as "Old Fashioned Lilac". So I ordered four of those and they came as little twigs barely six inches tall.
I grew them in pots for a year on the deck and then planted them at the end of our driveway in s spot where I had dumped the excess top soil we didn't use for our landscaping projects. Because of their diminutive size, I put wire paneling around them to protect them from lawnmowers and deer. I wasn't sure if deer ate lilacs or not but since they eat almost all our other landscaping regularly, I wasn't taking any chances.
After two years, they were about a foot and a half tall by that point but hadn't blossomed yet. Last year I build a retaining wall around them (they were on a steep slope) and created a bed of sorts to allow them room to expand and retain moisture. While they haven't expanded yet (they are supposed to send up multiple shoots nearby), the moisture retainment has improved since the bed if a flat terrace as opposed to a steep hillside and they shot up last year. This year, the three largest bushes perhaps now two feet tall, have put out blossoms, just like what I remembered.
In theory, they are supposed to grow up into a multiple shoot bush around six feet tall and with four planted in a row, create sort of a hedge of flowering shoots in the spring. When I planted those twigs all those years ago, I wasn't sure I would live to see the day when they reach maturity but at least with this spring's showing, the odds are getting better.
P.S. Since the leaves now hang outside their cages and the deer haven't touched them, I'm beginning to think they are one of the rare plants deer won't touch, along with daffodils. But I am waiting for them to send up multiple shoots before I remove the cages just in case they change their minds.