As a child I recall our teachers have a desk cluttered with the flowers that all of us seemed to have in our backyards. Wrapping the woody stems in damp paper towel then wrapping the stems with tinfoil.
These beauties came from my girlfriends home in Faraday. What a gorgeous gift. Every time I walk past them I'm reminded of her generosity as their smell is heavenly.
The lilac bush growing up in our backyard as children was a light variety with a powerhouse of scent. I remember how when new neighbours moved in, they didn't realize what it was and while my mom was out chopped down over half of the 100 year old 20 foot high lilac bush. We were devastated!
When driving out in the country on heritage properties, the homes may be crumbling yet you always seem to find a healthy stand of lilac, as if the trees were comforting the old place. Beside the lilacs you will usually always find a patch of hardy rhubarb as well.
The fact that the two plants are frequently found together gives us insight into the character of Canadian settlers who valued beauty as much as food. Rhubarb sustained their bodies and the lilacs nourished their souls after the sometimes long and dreary winters.
The sight of a rhubarb shoots poking through the soil must have been welcome after a winter diet of root vegatables and dried fruit. Rhubarb is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. The leaves contain oxalic acid, which keeps moose and deer from eating the rhubarb.
The lilac is one of the longest-lived shrubs. The oldest known in bush in North America is over three hundred years old. In mythology, lilac is the flower of the Goddess Venus which is understandable when you smell the flowers in full bloom.
The first shrub I planted in our new home up North was a lilac. I'm impatient as I want it to grow faster than it is! Yet just like pioneers, when circumstances change and it is time to move on to a new location, the person who follows us will have the joy of lilacs (and rhubarb!) to enjoy for many years to come. Both plants will serve you well and seem to thrive on neglect. So plant your lilacs and rhubarb this Spring if you don't have any yet. Nurture you body but your soul as well.