Thursday, April 5

Farm Photo 4/5/07: Lilacs!

I'm in love with these beautiful blooms.

There is nothing like the scent of lilacs riding on a warm breeze. The other day it followed me all the way down to the barn. There I was, lugging a hay bale to the starving sheep and sniffing the air like a dog.

I never take our lilac blooms for granted, as they only appear every few years because of our crazy weather. Last spring our two lilac bushes were covered with tiny buds, and I was hopeful (what timing—see the link below to my farm photo from a year ago today), but a hard frost destroyed every one of them. This year we've been lucky.

On Tuesday I snipped a handful of blooms, brought them into the house, and arranged them in a neglected crystal vase. There's something about freshly cut flowers--put some in a room, and I fail to see anything else. The ridiculous clutter, the dusty shelves of books, the incredibly ugly fake brick paneling on one wall of the living room--they instantly vanish.

The problem is, though, that the stems on lilac flowers are more like woody branches than stalks. Even when I crush their ends so they can absorb water more easily they don't last long indoors.

Today I wondered if this might have been by design. If the lilac flowers have to remain outside, the lilac lover is forced to stop whatever she is doing, walk over to the blooming bush, and bury her face in the flowers. She has no choice but to inhale deeply—the kind of deep breath that instantly soothes and relaxes every inch of your being. That lets you draw in one last little bit of scentillating air, even though you know your lungs are full. You feel your head tingle for a second, and you wonder if your brain is trying to capture the heady fragrance and store it as a memory.

For how nice it would be if we could summon up the scent of lilacs all year long.

A year of Farm Photos ago:
4/5/06: The Lilacs Are Coming! The Lilacs Are Coming!
4/4/06: Babies Chew On Everything
WCB #43: Molly Doodlebug & The Cat Cabin
And A Sweeter Sheep You Will Not Meet


  1. After all the bad thunderstorms here on Tuesday night, I was thinking of the babies and wondering if you had the same strong winds. Do you ever have a tornado there? I hope not!

  2. I love lilacs! I have a shrub taller than my house in the corner of the back yard - the leaves are just barely appearing now, so it will be a few weeks before the flowers and that heavenly scent appear. You're right - it would be nice to somehow preserve that fragrance all year!

  3. Lilac,what a lovely sound..I bet you have a Lilac lamby. I think happy thoughts of child energy, climbing trees ,scruffed up kness, pollywog hunting. Peanutbutter and soggy jelly sandwiches taken on that kid's picnic, thinking your the first person to discover that fabulous boulder in the woods with a warm sunbeam on it,just waiting for a warm body and a glob of whelshes grape jam, maybe on the way home from the pond you'll find an arrowhead!,or a heartstone!I love your blog, it brings me on a joy ride! Thankyou.

  4. How lucky you are!! This picture is a great reminder to all that spring is right around the corner. For some it might be a little later than others but it will arrive.Thanks:)
    My newly planted little baby lilacs have been chewed down to one bare stem by our new puppy!! If he wasn't so cute he might be in BIG trouble.

  5. My mom had a hugh lilac bush in our side yard in Ky. Seeing your photo did bring back childhood Easter memories and smells of spring, as those lilacs were always in bloom at Easter. Thank you so much for that memory today!

  6. Oh, I love lilacs, too! My little bush is blooming right now! I'm so proud of it as I dragged it home from out-of-state (WA to OR) in the back of my little Toyota.

    The variety is called "President
    Lincoln" and has blue-purple flowers. Very pretty and ummmmm...the smell.

    I bought it at "Hulda Klagers Lilac Garden," in S. Washington. It's on the historic registry (or something like that, I think). On the property is a quaint house, where Hulda once lived, that you can tour, once a year, during their annual "Lilac Festival" (coming up soon). The grounds are large and beautifully landscaped with every sort of lilac possible! Those nearby might want to visit it. Now is a good time and soon, during the "Lilac Festival," all sorts of lilac varities will be available for buying...the only time during the year that you can purchase them. Still, I think that right before the festival is, perhaps, the best time to go as some of the early bloomers have already showed their stuff by the time the Festival is going.

    Ellen xx

  7. We planted a lilac bush right outside our bathroom window about ten years ago. We open the window just a crack and the lilac scent wafts in. Mmmm... ours will not be out for several weeks because I am a long distance north of you. They're worth waiting for!

  8. oh, what a pretty shot. We just had big snow dumped all over the full-bloom forsythia and daffodils. I hope this is the last of it, for the lilacs are leafing, and it's my favorite birthday present each may to have them in full bloom. In town here, there's a long row of them along the main drag across from the university. I always hold up traffic with my slow drive-by with my face hanging out the window to capture each fragrant bit of air.

  9. What gorgeous lilacs! I'm jealous! We used to have those growing in our yard in Mill Valley and they were glorious.

    My mom's secret for keeping them fresh as long as possible: using a pair of sharp pruning shears, cut them early in tne morning when the blooms are about 2/3 open and then recut their stems at an angle while they are submersed in warm water. If you have floral preservative, that works well in the water - or just some plain sugar.

  10. "Scentillating" - I LOVE the spelling - so apt!

    I noticed last weekend, visiting in Ohio, that Ohio Spring is 2 or 3 (or more?) weeks ahead of me here in Connecticut.

    My aconites and snowdrops have gone by, crocus are on their way out. The lilacs are still in the bud and daffodils are tightly closed, too.

    Thank you.

  11. Ah, I'm a bit jealous. After a long winter, it's nice to be surrounded by the smell of lilacs. Heck, we still have snow up here.

  12. Thanks for reminding me about the lilacs. One of the earliest "it's Spring" smells up here (Ottawa) is the smell of the earth thawing. We haven't got lilacs yet - maybe by May. In the meantime, I have four tiny crocuses peeking at me from my tiny urban garden and I am also thankful that it is Spring. But when the lilacs start blooming, I will go and bury my face in them and then it really will be Spring.

  13. Lilacs are one of my favorite plants. They are so beautiful and smell so wonderful. Thanks for reminding me how much I love them. :-)

  14. My grandmother had them, but alas it's too hot to grow them here in Alabama.

  15. and WAY to hot to grow them here in Florida!! I guess having no snow is a trade-off :)

  16. Thank you for reminding me that spring will some day arrive here in the Northeast. We've got another month before the lilacs appear.

    lilacs and honeysuckle are my absolute favorite smell.

  17. Our lilacs are in bloom too. But this cold snap may have done some damage. I always enjoy your photos. They make me long for my own farm.

  18. I think you sum up the allure of fresh flowers - particularly ephemeral scented fresh flowers like lilacs - so well

  19. Beautifully written (as always), Farm Girl ! Happy Easter to You and Yours !

  20. Rurality, there are a couple of breeds of lilacs that are bred for low chill hours. I think they are called Lavender Lady and Miss Kim. With some effort and persistence, I've managed to get a few of them to take hold here in Georgia! Finally a little slice of my northern home in the springtime. :-)

    Farmgirl, I wonder if my Nana used to crush the stems of the lilacs she brought indoors. I tried putting some of mine in a bowl of water, the way she used to, but they wilted really fast. I'll try that next time.

  21. Mmm, lovely post! Thank you --


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