Lilacs are native to eastern Europe and Asia and are of the same family as the olive. Colonists brought them to eastern America in the 17th century for they were hardy. Some believe that Puritan women were the first to do so.
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew lilacs in their gardens.
We are told that a lilac bush can live for hundreds of years. The oldest lilac in America was planted in Portsmouth, N.H. by Royal colonial Gov. Benning Wentworth more than 250 years ago.
Lilacs are known as the Queen of Shrubs.
There is well-known Greek myth that tells of a beautiful wood nymph named Syringa. Pan, the god of the forest and field, was cativated by her beauty and chased her through the forest. She was frightened by Pan’s affection so Syringa escaped by running to the banks of the River Ladon.
Poor Syringa could not swim. She begged the water of the river for help and the water turned her into an aromatic bush that we call the lilac. This could only occur in Greek mythology. Ovid wrote of this and other legends.
The lilac is the state flower of New Hampshire for it symbolizes the hardy character of the Granite State’s citizens.
An old saying is: “She who wears lilac will never wear a wedding ring.”
For the superstitious, and there are many remaining in America, hang a spray of lilac over your door. The perfume of the flower will keep ghosts, evil spirits, familiar spirits, ghouls etc. from your house. We are not sure about the tax collector. It’s worth a try.
In symbolism the purple lilac symbolizes the first emotions of love. The white lilac represents youthful innocence.
Walt Whitman wrote “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloomed” as part of his elegy on Lincoln.
In Dante Alighieri’s Purgitorium, xxxii, 64 we find, translated from Italian to English: “…Had I the skill to pencil forth how closed the unpitying eyes slumbering, when Syrinx warbled…” This is mentioned here simply to indicated that Dante mentioned Syringa (Syrinx) in his extenuated poem, The Divine Comedy.
Lilacs are a symbol of Easter in Greece, Lebanon and Cyprus.
The writer just finished pruning out several old lilac canes that had to be removed. He is still able to get down low at the age of 75 and accomplish this. Yes, he can get back up.