In Syringa vulgaris, a relative of olive trees coming from the balkan penninsula, we find a wondrous scent and a bloom that impresses every thing from passerby to bee. Their allure is clearly demonstrated by the sheer scale of their cultivation; one would be hard pressed to find a town outside of the harshest desert reaches where no lilac can be found.
The lilac bush made its way into European gardens during the latter portion of the sixteenth century, and began its conquest of America almost as soon as America became a nation.
Why exactly is this balkan bush so incredibly popular?
It is a tamed wildness, with its eruption of color and scent coming just when the summer starts to come and the outdoors are universally enticing.
The bush survives in almost every place that we find suitable to live, asking for only the most meager of accommodations. The simple lilac provides us a bit of beauty in an easy to manage, simple to enjoy plant.
There are many more lilac bushes in our well kempt decidedly domestic gardens than orchids. This is no coincidence. An easily achievable beauty is sufficient for the simple mind that seeks only perfume to hide the odor of discontent.
The lilac is a perfect respite from the troubles of this world. Greater beauty would only pose a challenge, the core of what we are always trying to escape. Simple pleasures allow further avoidance of the complex problems that ail us. They shield our eyrs from the reflection of our inner plight–the dreadful world we have made in our own beloved image.
The scent can keep the stench of the dead away. The gentle breeze rustles the leaves and covers the wailing of those who will never see justice. The roots dry the blood of the ancestors we have betrayed, and the great bloom obscures even the most monumental of their burial mounds.
And so we dutifully sew seeds in each new conquered plot of desert, meadow, or forest… So that our buried dreams might have noble company.