– guest post by Katie Hughson
I have NEVER seen lilacs before in Japan.
I came across this inconspicuous little patch completely by chance outside a 7-11 last month, and of course I had to go over and sniff it.
I immediately felt homesick.
Where I grew up in Canada, our house is almost half surrounded by lilacs that have been there since before me, thanks to my dad, who was an avid gardener .
Despite the fact that I was only nine years old when my dad passed away, we developed a pretty tight relationship. He let me ‘help’ him with the gardening from as far back as I can remember, planting, admiring, and harvesting flowers and vegetables.
He’s the one who taught me the names of most the flowers I know.
He brought me to gardening shows – at least one focused on tulips – and I ran around, gathering all the cards displaying the photo and name of each kind of tulip; when I got home I proudly put them into my sticker album (even then I was particularly taken back by the deep black purple one; I can’t remember the name……but I feel it had ‘queen’ in it.)
As I ran around playing in the back yard during the spring and summer, I would always shove my nose into flowers, discovering what smelled and what didn’t (and what smelled bad: I decided daisies smelled like bum); picking veggies to eat after rinsing them under the garden hose.
To this day, freshly-picked carrots with garden soil on them is probably the most nostalgic scent that I haven’t smelled since then…………………. but I think I can remember it perfectly.
The lilacs: Dad had planted them all along the back border of our big back yard, with a couple of teasers in the front yard, too. When they were in bloom, and when I had a friend come over to play and it was time for them to go home, Dad would come out with the shears and cut a bouquet of lilacs for my friend to take home to their mom.
But back to that random 7-11 in Japan by the train station.
I didn’t want to leave the spot, but I eventually had to.
It was a pretty busy area, and I was standing there huffing with tears in my eyes for long enough that I know I looked weird.
Whatever. Passersby don’t know what they’re missing.
5 responses to “LILACS”
Beautiful description of longing.
We had two lilac bushes in the front yard of my childhood home. I loved being able to go out the door and smell their scent in the dry air. We lived in an arid high desert area so there was no dewy note. My Mother always hoped there would be lilacs left to place at the family gravestones for Memorial Day (May 31st).
I love tulips ( and lilacs too ) and gardened with my father ( who I lost when I was 13 )
I think that tulip might have been Queen of the Night https://www.gardenersworld.com/plants/tulipa-queen-of-night/#:~:text=Tulipa%20'Queen%20of%20Night'%20is,makes%20a%20striking%20cut%20flower. I grew then years ago but they never came through as dark as the pictures in my books !
It must have been hard losing your father at such a young age; Katy too.
I LOVE black tulips. Thanks for telling us what they are!
Lilacs have the most glorious scent. So happy they brought back some beautiful memories for you Katie.