Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Color: Lilac

On Sunday I took my first harvest of the year from my yard for a bouquet. Front and center are the lilacs. Lilacs remind me of my grandmother. She died when I was still in high school. The last of my living grandparents. My memory is a little fuzzy as to why they remind me of her. I think she often had a vase of them on her table. Lilacs remind me of the home that I grew up in where we had a lovely hedge by the driveway. And of my other life where we had a huge tree and I would bend the boughs over, take as many as I could carry to give to friends and co-workers after putting a few large bouquets in my own home.

When I had my yard redone last year, first and foremost on the planting plan was to have a scented garden. Jasmine (my home already had a large, well established bush on the front fence), gardenias, honeysuckle, sarcacocha ruscafolia (I don’t know about the spelling but isn’t that a fun one to say?), hyacinths and lilacs. The landscaper put in three lilac bushes. It didn’t dawn on me to specify the color of the lilacs desired. My favorites are the ones with darker reddish purple buds that open to a lighter, um…”lilac” color.

When the yard was all finished, all the little plants snuggled in with hopes of a flourishing future, I happened to ask what color the lilacs were that had been planted. They were pink. A light pink. The landscaper could tell by the way my face fell that that wasn’t what I had wanted. She did her best to convince me that these would be beautiful. And they hadn’t been able to find purple ones at that time. And that these were really healthy, nice looking bushes. I granted her that: they looked like they would be good bushes. But what’s the point of having a lilac bush if the flowers aren’t lilac in color? I told her I’d give it a season and would try to love them.

It didn’t work. The flowers didn’t look like lilacs to me. And (perhaps it was my imagination) they didn’t have the sweet smell of lilacs. So at the end of the summer I called the landscaper and told her that I really wanted lilac colored lilacs. I plan to have years with my garden. Each year it will get more and more shaped into the garden I always wanted. I put my sweat and soul into it. So I express what I want (this is a new skill I am learning). I want lilacs: the ones that smell sweet, remind me of my grandmother and delight me. I asked her to keep her eyes open. No rush (it was fall at the time after all). But please find some good replacements.

The replacement lilacs were put in within a few months. The new bushes were good looking. And this last week they provided me with my first bounty. Not yet full enough to cut armloads to share with friends, but for the first year they are showing good potential. When I harvest I like to leave a bounty on the bush as well. But I got enough for a lovely bouquet, supplemented with a variety of greens (and plums and yellows) from other garden bushes, some blue coral bells and a few white narcissuses. When I came home from work last night the lilac bouquet greeted me first with its scent, and second with its beauty. That’s what I’m talking about. I am content.
And now my color box piece on lilac. Enjoy!

You brought them to me
A fist full of promises
Grandmother smiled from heaven
Scent me a message

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