Grit Blogs > The Daily Commute

Lilacs Bloom In Osage County Kansas

By Hank Will, Editor-in-Chief


Tags: lilacs, spring, gardens, landscaping,

GRIT Editor Hank Will at the wheel of his 1964 IH pickup.When I was a kid in North Dakota, I knew spring had really arrived when the substantial lilacs in our yard bloomed. That far north, the lilac bloom came in May some years and in June others. This year, at my farm in Kansas, the lilac bloom started the night before last – I noticed that familiar scent when passing my only lilac bush on the way in from feeding the lambs. This morning, about half of the clustered flower buds had burst. I figure it will be another day or so before the lilacs bloom full force – I hope the predicted rain tomorrow doesn’t destroy the flowers.

Osage County Common Lilacs

My favorite lilacs are all shrubs in the genus Syringa that belong to the species vulagaris – the plain old ordinary common lilac. I so enjoy this deciduous plant because it thrives in the same harsh environments of my childhood and adolescence where it shaded me in summer, its arching under story provided endless opportunity for creating secret forts, and its beautiful flowers offered springtime cheer. My Osage County farm has but a single mature lilac hedge that hides the propane tank from view. I’ve transplanted a number of suckers but they have not yet matured.Syringa vulgaris in kansas

Non-hybrid common lilacs bloom in a variety of colors. Some are deep lavender, others are purplish pink and still others are white. The shrub as we know it originated in what is now Eastern Europe and has been the subject of much cultivation and hybridization in the Western world since the mid 1500s. These plants have history, and in spite of their susceptibility to mildew in the late summer and fall, gardeners and landscapers the world over continue to make a go of growing them – especially in colder regions. I don’t think I could ever move much further south than central Kansas because common lilacs bloom only after a period of real winter.

Lilacs bloom to announce spring to my way of thinking. And spring just wouldn’t seem real without the sight and scent of lilacs.

 


Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on .

hank will_2
4/20/2010 1:23:44 PM

Thanks, Dave. I love the lilac and so far, it is still blooming today. We had one gentle rain and the wind has held off so far -- it's nice to smell those flowers while bottle feeding the lambs and thinking about entering and exiting my days. Bummer about Rose (that's the largest redbud I have ever seen) but what an excellent metaphor her passing is. Lila will now thrive and continue to bring springtime joy.


nebraska dave
4/17/2010 4:30:12 PM

Hank, my lilacs are just in the bud stage. I only have one and call her Lila. Most of her life she resided under a redbud tree and struggled to survive. Old Rose the redbud tree succombed to carpenter ants and had to be taken out which was my last blog entry. Now Lila has full sun and looks like she will really put on a show this year. I am anticipating her to thrive much better than when she was completed shaded. I do like the aroma that fills the yard from Lila in bloom. I have started my horse tank water feature. It felt good being out digging in the dirt. Spring time dirt is so soft and workable that I hate to pass up a chance to lay the foundation for the tank. Hopefully by summer's end I'll have a working automatic gravity feed watering system for the garden. Enjoy the lilac while you can. It is so short lived.