Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Ann's Bloomerang Lilac
At my childhood home in Floral Park, we had a dwarf holly next to the front steps. Every family photo shows the whole tribe clustered on the brick steps with the squat holly front and center. I have a photo on my dresser of John and me on our first Easter when we were dating, and we're posed right in front of that holly bush. My dad said that my Aunt Betty had given it to them as a housewarming present when they bought the house in 1960. Every time I looked at the holly bush from then on, I thought of my wonderful chain-smoking Aunt Betty who kept coloring books in her home for me. Some day I will have to tell you about Aunt Betty. She was an amazing person, full of color and life, who kept seven cats, lived with her mother, never married, chain smoked Virginia Slims like she needed to set the world on fire, and once impulsively took my sister for an impromptu weekend trip to Pennsylvania to visit the bologna factory and see how pretzels were made. She and my uncle were friends with Roland Irolla, the national artist of France who designed the franc note! God bless Aunt Betty. She was like the German version of Auntie Mame without the money and sex.
Sadly, one of the first things the new owners did to the yard when we sold my childhood home was rip out all the old landscaping. When I last drove by the house in 2007 after attending my high school reunion picnic, they'd had it professionally designed. And while I loved the country-charm of the new landscaping and the plethora of hydrangeas, I missed Aunt Betty's holly.
Today John and I planted a dwarf lilac bush out front, to the left of the front steps, in almost exactly the same spot that just about 40 years ago my dad and mom planted Aunt Betty's holly. Curiously enough, after we landscaped the front and finished off that half this spring, we had a small section left. My sister Ann had given me a White Flower Farm gift certificate for my 40th birthday which I still had. We got the new White Flower Farm catalog two weeks ago and John pointed out a lilac called "Bloomerang".
I adore lilacs. We planted several small ones around the yard. Mr. Hoffman, the man who lived next door to us in Floral Park, had an enormous 50 year-old or so lilac hedge screening our garage from his property line. Every May crowning, I carried armloads of lilacs and snowball bush viburnum from our yard to school for the ceremony. I can't smell a lilac to this day without thinking of the Blessed Mother!
So we planted Bloomerang today. Already I am calling it "Ann's Lilac", just the way I used to call that other bush so long ago "Aunt Betty's Holly."