Lilac Chronicles

When Asya, my great-grandmother, traveled, she always came back with a sapling wrapped in damp newspapers. Asya’s doctor prescribed for her mineral water treatments for her chronic kidney ailment, and she often went away to take cure. But I rather think that she was on a mission to collect as many flowering plants as possible. Once back, her suitcases thrown on the bench in the yard, she went into the garden–still in her heels and hat–and planted the drooping seedlings. Some wilted, but many took root, filling the air with their fragrance–roses, carnations, lilies, jasmine.

Asya’s favorite plant was lilac. She brought them from every trip, from every visit to a greenhouse or a flower market. When I can’t fall asleep at night, I often imagine the path into Asya’s garden flanked by two tall lilac trees that bend towards each other. I count the lilac varieties and try to remember their scent, but usually slumber overtakes me before I get past the tenth bush.

This month I can compile my lilac chronicles with ease, because I’m here in Poltava, in Asya’s garden. I wake up to the green freshness of lilacs covered in dew and I fall asleep as their scent changes to hot marzipan and rosewater. I hadn’t noticed before how much the scent of the same plant evolves from morning to evening, depending on the weather or whether the rain is coming.

Flanking the house is a lilac we call “common,” because its flowers are the simple four-petaled stars. Asya knew the name of every variety–“Pink Cloud,” “Purple Sinai,” “Nordic Beauty,” “Taras Bulba,” or “Leon Gambetta.” I don’t know which lilac among the ones I see is named after the character from Nikolai Gogol’s story or which pays tribute to the 19th century French statesman. They all look like clouds to me into which I want to plunge my face. The common lilac may have the simplest blossoms, but the most complex scent, and whenever I pass by the bush, I lower the branches and bury my face in it, smothering, suffocating, intoxicating myself with its perfume of warm roses and almond paste. When it rains, this lilac smells softer and greener–nature’s answer to Frederic Malle’s En Passant.

The lilac on the other side of the house has opulent racemes in the shade of pink mixed with blue. They’re so large and heavy that they weigh down the slender branches, making the bush appear like a Japanese silk painting of itself. This lilac has a curious scent of rose and lily of the valley, with hardly any almond notes that make lilac so distinctive.

Right next to the lily of the valley scented lilac is the purple flowering variety. Its clusters are slender and right, with the dark violet flowers set mosaic-like as if by a careful hand–not a single petal is out of place. Its perfume is likewise austere, a drop of rosewater and a few almond petals. It stays in bloom the longest.

The only lilac variety in our garden I know with certainty is Syringa persica. Its flowers have pointed petals marked with calligraphically precise impressions in the middle, which make each blossom look like a jewel. The perfume of the Persian lilac is most sensual of all lilacs–heady and thick of indoles, the aromatics that smell of heavenly flowers in small doses and of decomposing flesh in more generous concentrations. In the morning, the Persian lilac oscillates between sacred and profane, suggesting both the pale innocence of orange blossom and warm skin, but in the evening, its fragrance turns spicier and darker. Catching whiffs of its strange and alluring perfume in the twilight makes me want to read Baudelaire’s Fleurs du Mal under its spreading canopy.

The double-blossomed French varieties in the garden itself are an extravaganza of colors, from burgundy to bleached lavender, via red grape and blackberry purple. Their scent, however, is a washed out almond-rose. To compensate for this disappointment, Asya planted the common lilac and it sends out waves of fragrance through the garden, perfuming even the bland beauties.

When Asya passed away we stopped planting lilacs. My grandmother, Asya’s oldest daughter, had troubles enough keeping up the orchard and the vegetable gardens–not to mention the old house that groaned and heaved with the weight of its own problems, antiquated electric wiring or faulty plumbing. Lilacs kept growing on their own, turning into tall gnarly trees, reaching over the roof, straight into the skies. I had no idea that lilacs could grow this tall. I wonder if Asya knew.

Years ago Asya’s favorite lilac, a small shrub that bore pale blue double flowers withered away. I regretted it like a lost sibling, since I remembered it so well from my childhood. My first perfumery attempts happened thanks to it, because I wanted to capture its almond pastry-like scent. I stuffed flowers into a perfume bottle, filled it with water and waited for magic. The magic didn’t happen. When I uncorked the bottle a few days later, the flowers turned brown and the liquid smelled rotten.

Four summers ago, however, the dead root sent out a shoot, and before long, the blue lilac rejuvenated itself. It still smells like Sicilian marzipans and green tea and it still makes me want to try extracting its flowers for their essence. Who knows, maybe the magic will happen this time.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin (if you know any of these lilac varieties, please tell me!)

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82 Comments

  • Mare: I love this article — lilacs are such a beautiful flower. I have only seen them in pictures. One day I hope to see and smell them in person.

    I am so happy the blue lilac came back. What a happy ending. May 11, 2018 at 8:00am Reply

    • Victoria: I was too! I couldn’t believe when I saw the blue flowers on those branches. It’s still a young plant, but I’m sure it will make it. May 12, 2018 at 10:28am Reply

  • Jeanne: I love lilacs-their scent and the billowing clouds of color. What a great article. I want to add more plants to my one lilac bush now! May 11, 2018 at 10:08am Reply

    • Victoria: They seem so easy to grow. If anything, we have to cut them back to prevent them from taking over the whole garden. May 12, 2018 at 10:28am Reply

  • Severine: Amazing how you celebrate your strong feminine heritage. Nothing makes a family like its women. The flower I shall always associate with my grandma is Jasmine. As a child I would wake up to bowls full of them on the kitchen table. She also wore them in her hair.
    The flower I will always associate with my sister is frangipani. As children we played under frangipani trees. Lilac is my favorite color. May 11, 2018 at 10:19am Reply

    • Victoria: The women in our family were very strong and they were such strong-willed characters that they left a deep imprint in our memories.

      Did your grandmother leave jasmine in water? Just to perfume the room? May 12, 2018 at 10:30am Reply

      • Severine: Yes, in bowls of water! We would also make jasmine jewellery with needle and thread! May 12, 2018 at 8:49pm Reply

        • Victoria: I can’t wait for our jasmine to bloom, even though it’s not a real jasmine, but rather a philadelphus variety. May 15, 2018 at 3:33am Reply

  • Danaki: Love love love this article, thank you V for finding words the express similar longings I hold deep down.
    It is always a pleasure to read your essays. May 11, 2018 at 10:25am Reply

  • Melissa Rosen: Beautiful. Love the pictures and your words jump off the page and I can smell the lilacs in the air. May 11, 2018 at 10:52am Reply

    • Victoria: I want this season to last and last! May 12, 2018 at 10:31am Reply

  • Mough: That is so beautiful, Victoria. The evocative writing just exquisite, and the subject deserving of your care. Thank you. Our common lilacs are just about to burst open, and each day I await their return. May 11, 2018 at 11:07am Reply

    • Victoria: The common lilacs finish blooming very soon, but their fragrance is so strong I can smell it in the room. May 12, 2018 at 10:32am Reply

  • Sherry: This is an exquisite tribute to Asya’s lilac garden. I can only appreciate lilac from a distance, the variety I am familiar with often give me a headache. But what a wonderful story and is there a better way to remember the loved ones have parted with us long time ago? I wish I could have kept my dad’s Chinese orchids (fragrant white ones) and magnolia champaca, which always remind me of him. I don’t think this is what’s intended – but it brought me to tears since it reminds me so much of the flowers in my childhood and people planted them.

    Thank you for the heart touching story! May 11, 2018 at 11:46am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you so much for your touching words! These comments mean so much to me. May 12, 2018 at 10:32am Reply

  • Cathy B.: Oh Victoria, I so much appreciate this article, and I plan to print it out in color. I adore lilacs! My dear aunt, who was like a grandmother to me, had a huge lilac bush in her backyard. It was a gift to her from my mother, and she would always cut a bouquet for me when they were in bloom. Her birthday was on the 8th, and I miss her so much. I sense her presence whenever I smell them.

    Would you be so kind to share some of your favorite lilac fragrances? May 11, 2018 at 11:51am Reply

    • Victoria: Yes, with pleasure. The number one is Frederic Malle En Passant. Then, I love the lilac accords in Guerlain Apres L’Ondee and L’Heure Bleue. Guerlain uses lilacs (accords, impressions) in many of the house’s perfumes, but in those two they are prominent. Alfred Sung is another very good lilac, by the way. May 12, 2018 at 10:34am Reply

  • Sandra: Happy Mother’s Day weekend to those who celebrate (mostly here in the US)

    Last weekend I went for a short jog with my friend and we passed by a lilac tree and she turned to me and said..”we must run into the park and find it!” And we did..all sweaty and jogging in place stuck our faces in the tree and inhaled!

    I also grew up around lilacs so its a smell that I associate with my childhood.

    This article is so touching Victoria! Thank you again for sharing and giving us a glimpse into your family memories. These are so personal and I feel honored to be able to read about it.

    This weekend, I am hoping to get a break from my two little ones and finish Heirs to the Forgotten Kingdom..I am so loving that book Victoria! I have never read anything like it and its opening my mind to different aspects of religions that I never knew existed. May 11, 2018 at 11:56am Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you for your kind words! You made me so happy with your comments on Heirs to the Forgotten Kingdoms. It’s an excellent book and it upturns many stereotypes and myths and gives a glimpse into so many different communities. A gem. May 12, 2018 at 10:35am Reply

      • Sandra: You so welcome!
        It inspired me to take a tour of the Islamic wing at the Met, I have lived in NYC for 8 years and have never visited.
        I also have the Aleppo book you mentioned on hold at the library, so I will let you know when I finished that.

        Speaking of books..I hope you don’t mind me mentioning here, if anyone likes Proust there is a lecture at Albertine’s book store. I am going and I have been to another lecture there about Proust’s neighbors. Its free and in English. https://www.albertine.com/events/proust-as-infusion/ May 12, 2018 at 11:15am Reply

        • Victoria: On the contrary, it’s great to post it. I wish I could attend.

          The Islamic wing at the Met is splendid. Every time I’m in NYC I have to go there. Did you see my beloved black-and-white Nishapuri plate? May 15, 2018 at 3:26am Reply

          • Sandra: Yes, the bowl was the first piece the tour guide talked about!
            The whole wing is gorgeous. The tour was suppose to be 1 hour but it went for 1 hour 40 min. Other folks on the tour encouraged me to come back for another tour for a different experience with a different guide. May 15, 2018 at 6:31am Reply

            • Victoria: It’s great that you went with a guide, because they have a great staff there and they can tell you so many interesting stories about each object.

              The Met is really one of my favorite museums. I also love the recreated office, the Intarsia Room, from the Palace of Duke Federigo da Montefeltro. It has such an intricate design. May 15, 2018 at 7:23am Reply

  • KatieAnn: My goodness, this is an exquisite post. The words and photos are so poignant and enchanting. I had tears in my eyes by the time I was reading the last paragraph. Our dwarf lilacs are now finishing. They smell like ripe cherries – very rich and sweet. I can’t wait for them to bloom every spring.

    Thank you for this. Truly, truly beautiful and so artistic. May 11, 2018 at 12:04pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! Your comment on lilacs smelling like ripe cherries is very interesting, because I noticed that one of our lilacs, the purple one smells fruity when it’s at its peak. May 12, 2018 at 10:36am Reply

  • Edna: Wonderful article that brought back childhood memories of my own grandmother’s lilacs. My grandparents had a farm in the Michigan countryside. When I was a child in the 1950s, we spent weekends with them. Springtime brought lilac blossoms that my grandfather had planted all along their roadside. The House was full of huge bouquets of lilacs and we took them to church on Sundays. I live in Alaska now where they don’t grow as profusely but my sister managed to start one. Her thumb is greener than mine. I wish I had known your grandmother. Thank you for sharing ❤️ May 11, 2018 at 12:25pm Reply

    • Victoria: I enjoyed reading all of these comments very much, sharing all of your lilac scented memories. Thank you, in turn, for sharing! May 12, 2018 at 10:37am Reply

  • OperaFan: So beautifully written. I feel like kindred spirits with your great grandmother. One of my greatest pleasures when traveling is enjoying all the native plants and flowers, especially those that do not grow at home or can only be cultivated in the home.
    Lilacs grow alone one side of our property and I enjoy their short but intense blooming season. This year I brought some inside and discovered, as the blooms fade, they take on a strong camphorated quality- very much like moth balls.
    How interesting, this Jekyll and Hyde transformation for such a lovely flower. May 11, 2018 at 1:10pm Reply

    • Victoria: You really would enjoy meeting her. She also grew roses and collected many varieties.

      That moth ball like note is the indoles. Lilacs are actually quite indolic. May 12, 2018 at 10:38am Reply

      • OperaFan: Thank you for remembering! My roses have been slow to open because of the wildly fluctuating weather this spring, but they have been gearing with the first bud ready to bloom any day now.
        That’s interesting about the mothball note being indolic. I always thought mothballs were chemically produced. I recently discovered a pair of daphne bushes flanking the entrance of our parking deck. They have been in full bloom this past week and I’d stopped by each time I walked by to take a whiff. They are just now beginning to fade and I can smell the infamous stink that is associated with my concept of the classic indolic notes. May 14, 2018 at 10:21am Reply

        • Victoria: They are, but the smell is what resembles indoles. When beauty writers start describing indoles as fecal, it’s a clear sign that they’re just repeating misinformation from the coffee table books. The closest smell is that of mothballs.

          I always imagine you surrounded by roses. 🙂 May 15, 2018 at 3:55am Reply

          • OperaFan: 🙂 May 15, 2018 at 10:42am Reply

  • Jocelan: Hello Victoria
    Thank you for taking us to Asya’s garden…so beautiful to share. May 11, 2018 at 3:58pm Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you enjoyed it! Thank you for following me there. May 12, 2018 at 10:39am Reply

  • Fleurycat: Thank you for another wonderful story and remembrance! I adore lilacs, which, among all the scents of spring, along with Lily of The Valley, seems most connected to nostalgia, and reminds me of my grandmother, as well. A wistful somewhat melancholic fragrance. Like Edna, I grew up in Michigan, where old fashioned lilacs grow with abundance. I am now happy to live in a climate where I can grow and enjoy them again, myself. There was a beautiful mid-Purple lilac on this property when I moved here, which was struggling despite attempts to rejuvenate it. I finally decided to replace it, but of course I couldn’t remove all of the stump or roots. Naturally it came back in force, and after a few years it finally produced a new crop of blossoms perfectly timed to coordinate with a large climbing yellow Rosa banksaie lutea trained on a high arch above! I am still searching for another old fashioned fragrant lilac to plant. Lilacs are so swoon worthy. For me, only Daphne odora and Stargazer lilies offer as heady and powerful a perfume. May 11, 2018 at 4:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: Your garden sounds beautiful–roses and lilacs. I wish I knew more about lilac varieties, since many of Asya’s lilacs are more fragrant than the modern ones.
      You’ve reminded me about her lilies. We have a patch that comes back in the same spot year after year. I can’t wait. May 12, 2018 at 10:43am Reply

      • Fleurycat: Dear Victoria: Your descriptions are so moving, reminding me of the incredible power of scent and memory. I’m so grateful to the elders who shared their knowledge of plants with me. They are gifts I will always treasure. Roses are a pain, but I cannot refuse them a place in my garden because the fragrance (and beauty) they produce are so exceptional! The only roses I grow with little scent to speak of are those pale yellow roses over the lilac, but they make up for it in sheer exuberant abundance, and happily, they’re thornless! 😉 May 13, 2018 at 5:58pm Reply

        • Victoria: So true, those are the greatest gifts.

          I have only one rose bush from my great-grandmother’s collection left. It’s a hardy damask rose, and it blooms so profusely. Ever since I cut down the wild grapes that threatened to choke it, it grew into a large shrub. May 15, 2018 at 3:48am Reply

  • Anna: Victoria, thank you for that beautiful article. Lilacs are one of the most beautiful of blooms and bring a reminder of joy and hope after long hard winters. How lovely to connect the lilacs with your great grandmother and that the blue lilac came back. Hooray! Lilac is one of the most glorious scents. May 11, 2018 at 4:16pm Reply

    • Victoria: It is, isn’t it! I bury my face in these lilacs when I pass by them. May 12, 2018 at 10:43am Reply

  • Rodica: Lilac… what a joy it was to smell it every year in May in Romania. Unfortunately not anymore, there is no lilac in New Zealand, where I’m living now. Two years ago we went to the UK in May and I stuck my nose in every lilac bush I could find. Divine! I have Yves Rocher’s Lilas Mauve to keep me company, though, could you recommend other lilac perfumes, Victoria? Thank you for writing all these articles, they are such a joy to read. I trust all your perfume reviews, they do resonate with me – I even bought Penhaligon’s Ostara unsniffed (NZ is a perfume desert, but since I discovered a website that sells decants, so now I can discover the pleasures of so many perfumes) because you gave it a 5-star review and it was discontinued – and it did not disappoint me at all, it is truly glorious. Thank you again. May 11, 2018 at 5:06pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! I’m so happy that I helped you find a new perfume to enjoy. 🙂

      I mentioned a few favorite lilac perfumes just a few comments up, and I also several articles here:
      https://boisdejasmin.com/note/lilac May 12, 2018 at 10:46am Reply

  • Tara C: I love lilac, every year I look forward to those few short weeks when I can stand under the branches and breathe in deeply. I bought a small bottle of Soivohle Lilac & Heliotrope that I am waiting to wear until the lilac bushes start blooming, so I can compare the scents. I haven’t yet found a lilac perfume that smells as good as the real thing. I did love the now discontinued Seringa candle by Diptyque. May 11, 2018 at 5:51pm Reply

    • Victoria: Seringa candle was excellent. I still don’t know why they discontinued it.

      Lilac & Heliotrope is on my list to try. May 12, 2018 at 10:47am Reply

  • Emilie: Your always vivid and exceptional writing takes on an extra poignancy whenever you speak about your childhood home in Poltava. It is clear how special it is to you.

    I loved reading this, you swept me away into a lilac tinted sky! May 11, 2018 at 7:09pm Reply

    • Victoria: I’ve spent 15 or so summers there, and I was fortunate to know my great-grandparents. I really feel that their spirits still linger here–and in the memories and scents. I don’t need to be physically here to feel the connection.

      Thank you very much! May 12, 2018 at 10:48am Reply

      • Emilie: That is a very special connection. Yes, I too was lucky enough to know my great grandparents and though their old family home is long gone I too feel their presence when holding things they have left behind (I have my great grandmothers aprons and jewellery) or just when reminiscing.

        Strangely enough it is the act of collecting eggs that always makes me think of my great grandmother because this was my job when I visited her. May 12, 2018 at 7:28pm Reply

        • Victoria: It’s the small things like that, I find. The small things that contain the multitude of impressions and memories. May 15, 2018 at 3:32am Reply

  • Klaas: Victoria, thank you for yet another lovely post! I am in Beijing and the pollution is so thick today that one could cut the air with a knife. Poltava looks like paradise from here!

    Back to Amsterdam soon, where air is a lot more breathable (is that even an word?). Enjoy your stay and all the beauty and memories…….and please keep on sharing 🙂 May 11, 2018 at 7:54pm Reply

    • Victoria: But Beijing! So many things to discover. I hope that you’re enjoying your trip, the pollution notwithstanding. May 12, 2018 at 10:49am Reply

      • Klaas: Oh my, Victoria, Beijing is the most puzzling, exhilarating and booming city I have ever visited! Being here is such a thrill and treat……

        Besides the apalling air, the food is the most striking feature of life in this city. The quality is incredible, no matter if you eat in a tiny street canteen or in one of the swanky or hip international restaurants. It is all finger licking good – if sometimes most exotic – which makes the stay here most enjoyable! May 12, 2018 at 1:07pm Reply

        • Victoria: I can’t wait to hear more about your trip when you’re back and what interesting foods you had a chance to sample. May 15, 2018 at 3:27am Reply

          • Klaas: Hey Victoria, back home after two exciting weeks in Beijing. Bit of work, bit of vacation, it was a perfect mix.

            Food in Beijing is an experience. The Chinese love to eat, and to eat well. It is also an incredibly cosmopolitan city, with food ranging from dumplings Beijing style to Cantonese, Thai, Vietnamese, Sushi and the best Spanish Tapas or French cuisine you can think of. Some of it very cheap!

            Most memorable were the fish in Seyshuan pepper oil (spincy!), an invigorating Chinese watercress salad with horseradish, dumplings filled with minced mushrooms dipped in vinigar and a super simple, super refreshing salad made with cold rice noodles, vinegar and cucumber. And I’m forgetting a tofu dish, served in a sizzling hotpot and aflame with heat, spice and pepper…….yum! It might not sound very exotic, but the flavours were just so intense (lots of star anise!)…….we were looking forward to dinner during lunch most of the time 😉

            Beijing is also great for vegetarians. Loads of vegetables, mushrooms, tofu everywhere! And fish and seafoods…….. May 16, 2018 at 4:16am Reply

            • Victoria: I haven’t traveled in China yet, but the whole of Asia is one great food adventure. I can only imagine what a big city must be like. Thank you for sharing your impressions. May 17, 2018 at 6:43am Reply

              • Klaas: It’s my pleasure! And thank you again for this lovely post. The lilacs are in fool bloom in Amsterdam, but untill now I never noticed how many of them we have in the city. And how different they all are…….and how lovely they smell. You’ve triggered my lilac awareness 😉 So nice….. May 17, 2018 at 11:22am Reply

  • rosarita: Oh V, how wonderful to read about Asya’s lilacs! Your words make them so real I can almost smell them. We have had the coldest easy spring on record here in the lower Great Lakes and I have noticed that the lilacs aren’t blooming in the profusion they usually do, and the scent is less detectable. The colors are still lovely though, from white to pale lavender, to raspberry purple, to the darkest purple velvet (my favorite.) I took my mother around town on our annual tour of favorite lilacs and redbud trees and dogwood yesterday and we were both a bit dismayed by the “thinner” scent this year, but still they are the essence of spring. May 11, 2018 at 8:08pm Reply

    • Victoria: The weather affects the scent. This year we had a very cold winter in Ukraine followed by a warm spring. Not sure what the summer will be like, but at this rate everything might finish blooming by June! The weather is very strange. May 12, 2018 at 10:52am Reply

  • Karen: What a lovely article and beautiful photos! After a winter that still refuses to let go, our lilac bushes finally bloomed. They were planted by my mom, who is no longer here to enjoy them. I threw open my windows the other night, forgetting about the bloomed lilacs, and was nearly overcome with the heady scent which reminded me of her~ May 12, 2018 at 12:23pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you! How special that so many of us have memories associated with our loved ones and lilacs. May 15, 2018 at 3:26am Reply

  • Ingeborg: Hos interesting to see the deep purple lilac mentioned. It looks rather like the lilac trees in our garden when my family lived well north of the Polar Circle. They were called Hungarian lilacs and did not smell very much, but was one of few flowering trees that would cope welll with a short summer (and would bloom in July). Siberian poppies are other flowers I remember from those years! May 12, 2018 at 7:23pm Reply

    • Ingeborg: Please forgive typos, autocorrect is not always a friend. Plus: Forgot to say how much I like your photos. May 12, 2018 at 7:29pm Reply

      • Victoria: Thank you!

        Oh, don’t worry about it! May 15, 2018 at 3:32am Reply

    • Victoria: Living so far north, you must have smelled the very scent that inspired Ernest Beaux to create Chanel No 5. May 15, 2018 at 3:31am Reply

  • Prema: I really was not aware so many varieties of lilacs existed. It is an eye opener. Thanks for this wonderful article. I hope to see and smell all these varieties some day.
    Could you lust out some fine fragrances that contain each of these lilacs as part of their composition. Would be interesting to smell them. May 13, 2018 at 1:21am Reply

    • Victoria: I mentioned my favorite lilac perfumes in this thread, so please take a look. Lilac is a perfume-created accord, since you can’t distill the essence from the flowers. May 15, 2018 at 3:34am Reply

  • Silvermoon: I just noticed this new post and thought my last comment should really be here. Thanks Victoria for the beautiful photos. They again reminded me of the bus stop last week, along with Ausrenfan’s comment. My reply to her is copied here: There is a beautiful lilac in full bloom next to it. Sitting under it on a stone wall, I felt enveloped in the perfume of its flowers. Some little bunches of flowers had fallen onto the wall and pavement. So, I picked one up and kept sniffing their beautiful scent all the way home. Such joy! The lilacs strongly reminded me of FM En Passant. It made me appreciate how beautifully close that perfume was to the real thing. May 13, 2018 at 4:51am Reply

    • Victoria: It’s one of my favorite perfumes, because it’s not just evokes the blooming flowers but the whole experience of smelling real flowers. That’s so rare. May 15, 2018 at 3:43am Reply

  • Silvermoon: Further to the above, I loved your sleep inducement thoughts – I usually count imagined sheep on beautiful meadows full of flowers, sort of flying overhead. Also, I didn’t realise there were so many varieties of lilac -the Persian one sounds gorgeous. I see you also find the common lilac reminds one of En Passant – I was really struck by this. Also, your comment on the evolving smell is exactly what happened to the little bunch I brought home (and couldn’t throw away until the next day). May 13, 2018 at 5:01am Reply

    • Victoria: Usually I have no difficulty falling asleep, because the moment I’m in a reclined state, I’m sleeping. But there are times when I’m worried about something and I can’t fall asleep, so I have my tricks.

      The Persian lilac is my favorite. Such a rich, complex scent and it blooms the longest. May 15, 2018 at 3:44am Reply

  • Mia: Touché, once again an article tickling straight my childhood memories and joys of present, too. I am happy that you so generously share your lovely and interesting relatives and their being with us.

    I love lilacs and their scent. It is the flower I cannot pass without putting my nose (actually head) into it. Partly and probably this is because they bloom so early and – quickly. Up North here, we have not yet reached the point. But even better: it is only yet to come!

    Happy early Summer for you and everyone here. May 13, 2018 at 11:51pm Reply

    • Victoria: Lucky you, Mia! Still the lilacs to look forward to. 🙂 May 15, 2018 at 3:49am Reply

  • Neva: Beautiful story and wonderful pictures Victoria. Lilacs have a special place in my heart because my father loved them from his childhood on so my grandma, his mother, brought him every year a bouquet of lilacs for his birthday in the end of April. When grandma passed away, my father planted a lilac tree in his garden so he could smell it every spring. Since he passed away, every year for his birthday I cut some branches from that tree and bring it to his grave.
    Lilacs are so beautiful and fragrant on a tree but unfortunately don’t last long in the vase. May 14, 2018 at 9:52am Reply

    • Victoria: I don’t cut them for this very reason. The exception is when they’re just starting to open, and if you slash the stems. But whenever I pass by the blooming lilacs, I bury my face in it. May 15, 2018 at 3:51am Reply

  • zephyr: Oh, the pale blue double-flowered lilacs in the last photo – gorgeous! The lilac bushes next door won’t bloom for at least another week here. Can’t wait! My lilies-of-the-valley, after a late start, are opening very soon. I’m checking them in the morning. Love these spring flowers and their scents! May 14, 2018 at 11:46pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s always been my favorite, because it looked like no other lilac I knew and its scent was so delicious. I’m very happy that it’s back. May 15, 2018 at 4:02am Reply

  • Inma: So touching and beautifully written, Thank you!! May 15, 2018 at 8:11am Reply

    • Victoria: Glad that you enjoyed it! May 17, 2018 at 6:04am Reply

  • aurora: Thank you for sharing memories of your great-grandmother. Her spirit leaves in that garden I’m sure. I see lilac trees across the street and further along, it’s always a special treat when they bloom and I buried my head in a white lilac drenched in rain and it was heavenly. May 21, 2018 at 5:14am Reply

    • Victoria: Ah, the lilacs drenched in rain. The image alone evokes so much. May 22, 2018 at 7:16am Reply

  • Teresa: Thank you for sharing about your great-grandmother’s lilacs! I live in a tropical country so I’ve never seen any lilacs here before, and have no idea how they smell like.
    Even in the Netherlands where I stayed for a while, I didn’t notice any lilac plants.

    So it was a treat to see your pictures and the many varieties!

    I especially like the light blue ones that your great-grandmother liked most, the colour is so pretty! Glad that it came back.

    I also tried the flower petals in water as a child, with frangipani flowers. They were the first flower to “wow” me with their fragrance! June 22, 2018 at 2:13pm Reply

    • Victoria: I still remember the first time I smelled frangipani flowers. I thought they were magical. June 26, 2018 at 2:44am Reply

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