Thanking Strangers from the Past for Pleasures of Today

green vase with lilacs

I can take no credit for the gorgeous lilac tree that grows beside our home. It is two stories tall and right now there are thousands of blossoms on it. It is spectacular.

It would have been planted about 30 years ago and by the looks of things it was never pruned, so just kept right on growing. All I did when we moved in a decade ago was cut out the dead wood, and now I just trim the bits that hang down over our walking path every year.

Did you know that lilacs are trees and not bushes? I didn't know this before meeting this one. They are in the olive family and there are actually 20 to 25 different specimens of Lilac. Ours is one that doesn't smell very strongly and I'm actually happy about that because with so many blooms, it would have been overwhelming if they smelled as strongly as do the more common 'French' lilac. The flowers we get are more delicate and fragile looking and very lightly scented.

lilac outside

Every year when it blooms I think of the person who planted this tree all those years ago, and send them I little thought of thanks. Not only did they plant the lilac, but beside it is a magnificent forsythia 'tree' that blooms with a fiery yellow earlier, in April. And that's not all this thoughtful gardener did. They also planted a hibiscus tree beside those, which blooms profusely with purple flowers in late summer and into the fall.

While these trees are beautiful seen from the outside, the long-ago planter also had the foresight to consider what they would be like from inside the home, as they planted them within view of our favourite window on the second floor. We both spend plenty of time gazing out this window, and right now my gaze lands upon a sea of pastel pink flowers.

lilac tree


This person must have planted these three flowering trees with the goal of having flowers out there throughout the growing season, although it would be years until the young plants would be large enough to really flower well. What they would have had was the work involved with getting three small saplings to grow, tending and watering them while they became established. Really, they were doing it for someone off in the distant future. And that lucky person is me.

I am so grateful to the long-ago gardener, that I may reap the fruits of their labour today.

trimmings from lilac tree

eddie and vase

Here are the cuttings I had to take this year, in order for us to be able to walk by the tree. I haphazardly arranged them in an old vase that I was given years ago by vintage dealers, from whom I was buying a set of dishes. The vase was already old when I got it and I usually keep it safely tucked into a glass-doored cabinet (along with the same dishes I was buying back then). The people who gave it to me were the very first to introduce me to the beauty of vintage housewares, as when I first moved downtown as a single girl beginning to make my way in the world, their shop became a real favourite place to go. (Anybody remember the shop 'Red Indian' on Queen Street West?) They would let me take my time looking at every perfectly curated treasure-from-the-past, as though I was visiting a museum. The vase is McCoy pottery and I remember when they presented it, they told me it was 'the real McCoy'. I'm sure that's not where that saying comes from but I've always called this vase my real McCoy.

lilacs in mccoy vase

mccoy vase with lilacs

lilac flowers 3

lilac flower 2

lilac flowers 2

sprig of lilac

mccoy vase handle

individual lilac flowers

Thanks for taking a look. Wishing you a happy Thursday.
xo loulou
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10 Responses to Thanking Strangers from the Past for Pleasures of Today

  1. Norma says:

    The lilacs look gorgeous in that vase.

  2. Kaisa says:

    I miss the smell of lilacs!! There seem to be none in Madrid or if there are any then they hide well.

  3. Fiona says:

    Ah so beautiful and I had no idea they were trees not bushes!

  4. Hollie says:

    I feel so silly. I’ve never seen lilac before. I’ve always assumed it was a flower that grew out of the ground, like a daisy or violet!! I don’t think they grow around these parts.

  5. Joann says:

    I love lilacs! The colour, the smell. So lovely. I don’t have a lilac tree now and I really want to find room for one. :)

  6. Annika says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lilac tree as tall as you’re describing yours. It must be beautiful. So are your photos. I have two lilac bushes in my garden, but I keep them in pots so they can travel with me when I move. So I’m not as generous as your mystery gardener. But I ‘stole’ these bushes when they were just seedlings from the garden of a museum (a baroque residence) in the city I went to university in, and lilac is one of my favourite flowers, so these bushes hold some memories and are very dear to me.

  7. Marisa says:

    I LOVE the smell of the lilac tree. It actually reminds me of being a little girl and spending Saturday afternoon at my grandmother’s house. I’ve been dying to plant one in my front yard. Fingers crossed…my hubs being a city boy has no green thumb and I am just starting out with the whole gardening thing, so we shall see how it goes :-) Lovely photos Loulou!

  8. Vix says:

    I’m inspired – we’ve a couple of lilacs in the garden, I must go and take some cuttings and pop them in a vase, your’s look beautiful! xxx

  9. Lisa says:

    I love lilacs too! They are my favorite, we have some growing half in our yard and I am so grateful to whoever planted those ones. My favorite smell of all time!

  10. Julie says:

    You gave me goosebumps! This reminds me of that quote, “Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they will never sit in.” What a lovely garden gift, and how wonderful it feels to be thankful.

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