I Will Plant (& Transplant) You a Lilac Tree

One of the bright spots in maintaining social distancing, is that I’ve been able to spend the last month at our lakehouse. For the last several years we have not stayed put in one house for that long. We are used to packing up every weekend and going back and forth from a townhome in northern Virginia to our lakehouse, because this is where we want to be. This is our home. So, this has been a little silver lining.

Being spring, there is never any shortage of things to do to prepare for the summer and also to clean up after the winter’s remnants. Things like transplanting the day lilies that used to line our bottom driveway (and that the deer have been snacking on for the last few years), planting a couple of new redbuds on the side of our house, a new weeping cherry tree down by the lake edge, removing overgrown shrubs and pulling lots and lots of weeds. And planting and transplanting a few lilac bushes.

My love affair with lilacs began when I was a girl growing up on a farm in Minnesota. My mom had a lilac tree in our front yard and I used to love to cut stems with the heavy large blooms and put them in a mason jar, ready for mom when she got home from work. I loved them so much that I had originally wanted them somehow in my wedding if not with actual lilacs, the color of my bridesmaid dresses. As it turned out I decided on burgundy to match the “blood” stripe of my husband’s Marine dress blues.

Three years ago, in a little corner of our back yard, I planted a lilac bush that was brought over from the last house. I hadn’t given much though to where the ideal spot would be, I just needed to get it in the ground. After three years of sporadic blooms, I decided it probably was not the best place. I kept forgetting it was there and would often neglect it for pruning and clipping. It wasn’t an overachiever by any means.

I decided the best place (by my research and inexperience), was along the south side of the house. This side was currently lined with day lilies. I knew it was a matter of time before the deer would find them too (they had in the past), and I was already thinking about transplanting those as well to the corner by the weeping willow.

It would be a beautiful place to space out the lilac shrubs with a day lily in between them. So with the help of my husband, we dug out the lilac bush, gave it a new sunny home, and planted two new lilac bushes in the same area. A little mulch and it will be beautiful. It will get full sun, good water from the lake sprinkler system and great drainage. The blue/gray house behind them will be a perfect backdrop for the purple lilacs in the spring and the yellow day lilies all summer.

Several years back while visiting the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC, I found this tiny little book “I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree” by Laura Hillman. I am an avid reader of books based around this time period of the Holacaust and stories based on survivors. So this little book spoke to me and pulled me in by the title alone. I decided to pick up this little book the other day and started to read it for the first time.

I think lilacs are one of those flowers that have a special meaning for a lot of people. I know they do for me, bringing back special memories not only by their little bundles of flowers, but by their distinctive soothing fragrance. Just one more reason to love it here.