Chasing Lilacs

by Analyn Revilla

In Edmonton where the winters are very cold and can last into early April the lilacs bloom heartily and they are sweet smelling.  A childhood memory is cutting down the tall stalks from the ancient bushes across the street from my home.  I made leis and crowns of the little blossoms that I plucked from the frond, like pinching bits of cotton candy from the cone.  

The common name of lilac is derived from the Persian word for blue.  Here is why:

Where they grow native, a lilac bush will appear in ordinary spaces making them extra-ordinary for a short period of time.  I’ve seen a single bush soften the harshness of concrete and metal with the wanton splay of branches, laden with French white lilac blooms. Syrina Vulgaris is native to the Balkan Peninsula where it grows on rocky slopes.  Perhaps it is the lilacs’ nature after all.

T.S. Eliot used lilac in two of his poems: “Portrait of a Lady” and “The Waste Land”.  In the latter he recognizes the lilacs by…

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

Winter kept us warm, covering

Earth in forgetful snow, feeding

A little life with dried tubers.

a little further on…

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow

Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,

You cannot say, or guess, for you know only

A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,

And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,

And the dry stone no sound of water.

This lilac that has captured my imagination since childhood is more than sweet and heady.

I had to write this last blog because spring is upon us and the lilacs are ephemeral. Since living in LA I’ve been chasing lilacs.  There are two places to lose one’s self in lilac dreams.  In a few weeks time, by Easter perhaps, they’re expected to come out in blue splendor at Kilcoyne Lilac Farm in Acton, CA.  (  I just bought a dual membership for Descanso Gardens in La Cañada Flintridge, CA ( where the lilacs started blooming in early March ( 

Just go!


2 thoughts on “Chasing Lilacs

  1. Thank for this insight on lilacs – I needed something to help scrap the brain plaque caused by this ‘plague’; aided in reminding me that there is fragrance of winter ending to springing into bloom. Appreciate the window in which you provided in order to branch out mentally.. thank you!

    1. Hi Anita, Thank you for reading and letting me know that this post helped you with ridding some brain plaque. It’s been really a tough one for all of us. Great to see solidarity in our group @here supporting each other thru this roller coaster ride. Weeeee!!! Take care.

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