Common Lilacs: Exorcism, Renewal, and Youth

Common Lilacs: Exorcism, Renewal, and Youth

Lilac is a perennial deciduous shrub of Syringa in the Oleaceae family. It is native to the rocky hills of the Balkan Peninsula. In spring, it produces a lovely, romantic cluster of flowers. Lilac flowers are delicate and come in various colors, from pink and white to blue and purple. Besides being the perfect spring garden shrub, it also provides fresh-cut flowers. Most importantly, the lilac’s floral fragrance is one of the most unforgettable scents in the plant world.

Places of Interest
1. Rochester, New York

Rochester, New York, has held the Lilac Festival since 1898. The oldest festival in North America, it features 1200 lilacs representing more than 500 varieties, many of which were developed in Rochester. This festival presents the most elaborate collection of varieties of lilacs we know of.

2. Lombard, Illinois

Lombard, Illinois, is known as the “Lilac Village.” A Lilac Festival and parade are held here every May with more than 200 kinds of lilacs and over 50 tulip varieties to enjoy.

3. The Arnold Arboretum in Boston, Massachusetts

The Arnold Arboretum in Boston, Massachusetts celebrates Lilac Sunday every May. The botanical garden displays more than 422 lilacs, including 194 different varieties. If you plan to go, choose a Sunday in May because Sunday is the only day you are allowed to have a picnic in the botanical garden.

Lilac in the perspectives of different countries

Many plants yearn for a warm and sunny paradise in the South and West of the United States, but lilacs are different. They prefer a cold or cool climate so they can rest at lower temperatures and grow flowers. In some temperate regions of Asia, such as northern China, some relatives of the lilac (Syringa oblate) also bloom in the spring after experiencing the cold. This kind of lilac is beloved by some poets. Their unopened flowers look like a cross knot, which is seen as a symbol of beauty and sadness.

Common Lilacs: Exorcism, Renewal, and Youth

blooming lilac flowers that look like a cross knot

Lilacs are widely welcomed in Europe and the United States, but carry different symbolic meanings in different places. Russians hang them on cribs as a sign of wisdom. In Victorian England, lilacs symbolized old love and were often worn by widows. American legend has it that placing fresh lilac flowers in haunted houses can ward off ghosts. Lilac is the state flower of New Hampshire because it is originated from the rocky hills of the Balkan Peninsula, which is symbolic of the hardy character of the men and women of the Granite State.

Common Lilacs: Exorcism, Renewal, and Youth

Lilacs live such a long life that some lilacs outlive the houses they were planted beside.

Tips for keeping lilac flowers

Lilacs have a very short flowering period. It usually withers after swaying in the spring wind for two weeks. Many people grow lilacs just for the fragrance of these two weeks. However, there are other ways to enjoy lilac flowers, one of which is to put it into all kinds of food. After all, lilacs are edible! Cake and ice cream will appear more beautiful and appetizing when dressed with lilacs. Soaking lilacs in vodka results in a lavender wine used to make enticing cocktails. Make sure the lilacs are clean and safe. In addition, lilac can also be used to make bath salts or handmade soap. If you bathe with it, you can enjoy the lovely smell of fresh spring.

Common Lilacs: Exorcism, Renewal, and Youth

Edible lilacs.

Lilac and art

Lilacs heal people’s hearts and inspire artists. Van Gogh and Monet both painted touching depictions of lilacs.

Van Gogh had already lived in a mental hospital when he created this bright portrait. He volunteered to live there because he realized he had lost his ability to care for himself. This bush of lilacs bloomed outside his room and reminded him that spring had come.

Common Lilacs: Exorcism, Renewal, and Youth

Lilac Bush, 1889, by Vincent Van Gogh.

Monet also painted several works related to lilac, studying the change of light by depicting lilac flowers. The beautiful scene of people sitting under the lilac tree also inspires people to have their own lilac in the garden.

Common Lilacs: Exorcism, Renewal, and Youth

Lilacs in the Sun, 1872, by Claude Monet.

Common Lilacs: Exorcism, Renewal, and Youth

Lilacs, Grey Weather, Claude Monet, 1872. Orsay, Paris.

Can I grow a decent lilac?

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to plant lilac, but remember these points: lilac requires neutral soil with good drainage, so do a soil test before planting. If it is acid, improve the soil condition first. On the other hand, if your soil is in good condition, lilac doesn’t need extra fertilization, because too much nitrogen will lead to a poor flowering.

Common Lilacs: Exorcism, Renewal, and Youth

Pruning is necessary if you want your lilacs to bloom more or maintain a shape. You can prune the lilac when the flowers have withered; just leave a third of the bush by the end. Proper pruning also promotes air circulation and reduces the risk of infection.

Size: 2-5 m (6-16 feet) tall and 2.5-3.5 m (8-12 feet) wide

Hardiness: USDA Hardiness Zones 3-7

Sunlight: full sun

Soil: rich, well-drained, loamy soil with a neutral soil pH

Bloom Time: spring