Wednesday, May 24, 2023

The Allure of Lilacs: A Blossoming Journey into the Enchanting World of Lilacs

In gardens around the globe, there exists a flower that transcends time - captivating hearts with its delicate petals and intoxicating scent.

This is the lilac - a beloved bloom that has bewitched generations with its ethereal beauty and nostalgic allure. They won me over as a child, and have had a hold on my heart ever since! From taking home fluffy blooms from my Great-Grandma's house, to one of my best friends bringing me bunches of lilacs to scent our locker with in high school, to growing my own lilac bush in my yard as an adult, lilacs have brought me so much happiness over the years.

But you know what I've never done before? Researched them. Beyond their beauty and smell, I've never dug into the incredible details of all things lilac, and realized I should remedy that ASAP!

Embark on a fragrant journey through the origins, history, symbolism, and wonders of these enchanting blossoms with me! (And I'll show you allll the lilac spam from this year's yield!)

Origins and History

Lilacs, with their captivating beauty and intoxicating fragrance, trace their origins back to the ancient lands of Persia (modern-day Iran) and surrounding regions. From there, they began a journey - spreading their beauty and fragrance across continents and captivating the hearts of people worldwide.

Lilacs found their way from Persia to the gardens and courtyards of ancient civilizations, including the Greeks and Romans, who appreciated their beauty and even incorporated them into their culture. The Greeks associated lilacs with the nymph Syringa, and the name "syringa" eventually became a botanical name for lilacs.

In the 16th century, lilacs made their way to Europe, brought by Ottoman Turks who gifted the plants to European diplomats. Lilacs quickly gained popularity in the royal courts and gardens, particularly in France, where they became a symbol of love and beauty during the reign of King Louis XV. I just started reading a book about Floriography, so this was super interesting to learn!

Symbolism and Sentiment

Lilacs have long been associated with love and romance. They symbolize the passion and intensity of deep love, making them popular in wedding bouquets and romantic gestures. In the language of flowers (Floriography!), lilacs convey the message of love and affection.

The delicate, colorful blooms of lilacs are often associated with elegance and charm, as well as youth and innocence. The tender blooms and their sweet scent evoke a sense of purity and childlike wonder. They can represent the simplicity and joy of youth, reminding us to embrace our inner child and find happiness in the small pleasures of life.

Lilacs Today

Lilacs have specific growing requirements and are typically cultivated in regions with the right climate and soil conditions. Lilacs thrive in areas with distinct seasons, including cold winters and mild summers. Must be why you can find them all over Buffalo!

Lilacs are widely cultivated and appreciated in many parts of the world, including North America, Europe, Asia, and certain regions of Australia. They can be found in gardens, parks, and landscapes where the climate supports their growth.

In North America, lilacs are particularly popular and can be found in various states and provinces. The common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) is well-adapted to the climate of the northern United States and Canada. In Europe, lilacs have a long-standing presence, with countries like France, England, and the Netherlands known for their vibrant displays of lilac blooms during the spring season. Lilacs are also cultivated in parts of Asia, including China, Japan, and Korea, where they hold cultural significance and are celebrated during festivals.

That Scent!

I don't know about you, but I have a hard time describing the scent of lilacs. It's so unique! There's almost a musky-ness to them, while also being bright and fresh. It's so intoxicating!

I tried to google some ways to describe the scent of lilacs, and what I found was: sweet and floral, with delicate notes of jasmine, honeysuckle, and a hint of spice.

And this: "Lilac has a facet reminiscent of lily of the valley and another of mimosa. It is reminiscent of pastel. Lilac is powdery, soft, creamy, cosmetic, romantic, almondy and green." (source)

Powdery, soft, creamy, romantic. Yes x4.

Cultivating Lilac Magic

I am no gardening expert, and when it comes to my lilacs...I honestly don't do much other than give them some water if it hasn't rained in a long time and wait for blooms to arrive in May. However, there are some things about growing lilacs that could potentially give you maximum lilac happiness.

Lilacs thrive in full sun, so it's advised that you choose a location in your yard that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. Weirdly, though, I've had 3 lilac plants on my lot, and the only one that survived (and is thriving!) is one that is actually in partial shade. It gets plenty of sunlight, but shares real estate with a huge maple that sometimes creates a shady environment for it - though usually after peek blooming season.

And apparently - you're supposed to prune lilacs immediately after flowering, usually in late spring or early summer. Oops. I hate the process of pruning - it feels so destructive and dangerous! But the advice I found is to remove spent flowers by cutting just above the first set of leaves beneath the flower cluster. Regular pruning helps maintain the shape of the plant and encourages better flowering, so...guess I'll try it this year!

Blooming Bouquets

Similar to hydrangeas, lilacs don't like to hang out long once they're cut and put in a vase. But I did a little googling and found a few random tips for making them last a bit longer. First, cut your blooms early or late in the day - they are the most hydrated at this point and will have the best chance at survival. Then, wherever you place your bouquet, keep it away from fruit! This is such a strange tip, but certain fruits like apples, bananas, and melons produce a gas called ethylene and lilacs are sensitive to it. Being exposed to it will make them wilt! Who knew!! And finally, you can mist them with a spray bottle to make them happier. They apparently enjoy a little extra humidity.

Beyond the Vase: Lilacs Everywhere!

This is actually new to me - the most I've done with lilacs is bury my nose in them and stick them in a vase. But more and more (probably just because of the content I've been seeking lately), I see people using lilacs in all sorts of ways!

Did you know that lilacs are edible? I didn't. And...I'm weirdly afraid to try them? LOL I love them so much that I don't want to ruin in it by tasting them and not liking it or something. I know, I'm difficult. But people make all sorts of recipes with lilacs - sugar, simple syrups, cakes, teas, cocktails.

It's probably no surprise that you can make all sorts of fragrances and bath products with lilacs, but there's that, too. Things like sugar scrubs, simmer pots, potpourri, and bath bombs would all be amazing with lilacs in them!

There's endless ways to be creative with them, too. Beyond bouquets, you can press them to make art with, create a natural dye or water-color-like paint to paint with, glue them onto projects, or even use the blooms as a stamp or paint brush. And not to state the obvious, but a framed print of a lilac photo you took will never be ugly...just saying!

As we wrap up our lilac-scented journey, I'd love to know your associations with lilacs! Do they ignite memories for you, too? Do you grow your own? Have you ever done something unique or culinary with them??

For me, the beauty, the scent, the symbolism, and the joy of watching lilacs emerge each spring reminds me to embrace the magic that resides in the simplest moments. They encourage me to be intentional and thoughtful just by existing! 

PS - have you noticed that this blog is decorated with them? They have my heart! <3

Here are some of the resources I used to write this post if you want to learn more:

Here's an image to pin in case you'd like to hang onto all of this lovely lilac info for later! <3

No comments:

Post a Comment