The homes in our neighborhood were mostly built in the 1940s, leading to some common features like built-in china cabinets and screened porches. Though our house was one of the first to be built there, when we moved in, we were missing a critical outdoor element the other houses all had: lilacs.
I love lilacs and their old-fashioned beauty, their natural grace. Their perfume is more intoxicating than a Churchill martini. More than any other plant in these climes, they proclaim that May is here.
So as a new homeowner six years ago, I visited my dear friend, CleoLion downstate to take some bits of her enchanting moonlight garden home with me. To this day, CleoLion’s plants are the most outstanding performers in my perennial collection. You’ll see more of them in the months ahead: the David phlox that blooms three times each season and is trying to take over the bed, and the crown jewels on our property, Casablanca lilies that bloom the first week of August, perfuming the whole neighborhood from stalks six and seven feet tall.
Back on that April day six years ago, I also took a stick with a root that has quietly been growing into an Edith Cavell optic white lilac that apparently decided my first Mother’s Day would be the right time to bloom for the first time. Here is the first cutting from this year’s blooms. I only wish you could smell them. They’ve been joined by a half-dozen other lilacs around the yard, and even though you’re not supposed to play favorites, Edith remains truly special.