When we added several rooms and a new garage to one end of the house some six years ago, we had to remove a struggling and bedraggled lilac bush, but we planted five to replace it, hoping to have more lilac blooms. Both my wife and I love lilacs, but while lilacs thrive in Cedar City, what happens to their fragrant spring blooms is another matter. Over the last 27 years, we’ve been able to actually smell the lilacs perhaps four times.

That’s because Cedar City, at any time of year, is subject to violent and severe changes of temperature. The year we constructed the addition, on Friday, two days before Mothers’ Day, the contractor removed the old garage, turned off the gas line [because it crossed the excavation zone] and “sealed” off the end of the house with heavy plastic. The daytime high was in the low seventies, and the low in the low forties. Nothing unusual was forecast.

On Saturday night the temperature dropped to around twenty degrees [F], the wind picked up to 30 mph, and the snow began to fall. By Sunday morning, Cedar City had between thirteen to twenty inches of snow. We live on a hill on the west side of town. Guess which end of the snowfall we got. The effect on the already leafed out trees and much of the rest of the town was predictable. Not only did we have no gas for the gas furnace, but we had no electricity for the alternatives.

Fortunately, on the lower level of the house, we do have a very reliable Vermont Castings wood-fired stove, which kept the lower level very toasty and the upper level well above freezing for the next two days. By Tuesday, the day-time temperature was back into the low seventies and the nighttime low into the high forties.

As I write this, the daily highs have been in the high sixties [F] and the lows just above freezing, but last week for several days the lows were in the twenties. Those sixty-plus degree days have encouraged the lilacs to leaf out and the buds look ready to flower in the next few days.

Freezing temperatures aren’t in the forecast… but neither was the Mothers’ Day storm. I’m still hoping to be able to smell the lilacs this year.

4 thoughts on “Lilacs”

  1. Lourain says:

    Lilacs bloom reliably in my part of the US, but this year the lilac blossoms had snow on them.

  2. Tim says:

    Three years I bought two white lilacs from separate nurseries to complement a big violet bush. No blooms for the first year then in year 2, one produced magnificent dark purple flowers. The second one is in bud as I write this so I wait with interest to see what I get.

    I never realised they had scent.

  3. Hanneke says:

    I learned (the hard way) that lilacs really hate having their roots sitting in water. My garden has an impenetrable layer of hard clay at between 2 and 3 feet down, which the rainwater cannot percolate down through. That means in wet and rainy seasons there will be a builup of water in the soil on top of that layer, before it slowly drains off laterally towards the nearest ditch or canal. The two lilac trees I planted at one end of the garden, where that clay layer is at 2 feet deep, both died within a very few years.
    Years later I tried again at the other end of the garden, where the clay is less close to the surface, and that tree thrived and gives me lovely scented white lilac blooms, though I bought it as a supposedly pink-flowering one 🙂 Any blooms that give such gorgeous scent are welcome, anyway.

  4. Thomas Williams says:

    Lilacs and Hosta always remind me of the old Baxter Hall. Although, I remember them more for the foliage than the fragrance. Even if unstable climates cause your lilacs to be less fragrant or even loose their flower pigment, hopefully their fall foliage is consistently vibrant. If you can grow a Sweet Olive or Wintersweet bush, both of them are also very fragrant.

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