The garden is starting to flaunt it. So before I get carried away with early summer floriferation (yes, I may have made that word up), I thought I would just write a little post about lilac. And cuckoos.
We inherited four lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) in our garden, so I have had to guess at the varieties.
By the back door is a single ivory, I am guessing ‘Primrose’, which perfumes my early morning explorations of the garden. If we leave the back door open, it perfumes the kitchen. When the evening sun shines through the heart-shaped leaves, it is just lovely. This will grow quite large, but we are re-shaping ours and so it has been hacked back to about 1.5m x 1.5m. You can be quite stern with a lilac.
We have a narrow strip of garden between the south-eastern wall of our house and the garage which only really catches the late-afternoon and evening sun. Three lilacs have been planted close together (a bit too close for comfort) but they all tolerate these conditions remarkably well. They also housed our children’s den until very recently, so have been the site of important excavations and building works.
The first is the marvellously frou-frou ‘Emile Lemoine’ – at least that is my guess. There is this wonderful two-tone effect, with the rosy-pink buds, and lilac open flowers. They are double, just to add to the feather boa flamboyance.
Then there is a double white, which I am calling ‘Madame Lemoine’. Not because I am feeling fanciful, but because my research has led me here. It is pure white, and incredibly fragrant. There is a cloud of fragrance around it.
And finally, aptly named, (and I am confident of this one) is ‘Sensation’, a bicoloured single. This is the one I like to show off. It is lovely from the bud stage to fully open.
At this time of year, the bird song is glorious. When we sit out we are surrounded. The blackbird continues to trill. We can pick out several well-known refrains now. There is the intermittent cooing of wood pigeons and collared doves, and the percussion of house-sparrows. We have some very strange-sounding starlings, which have a range of noises varying from coffee-percolator to wah-wah guitar pedal. But my favourite at this time of year is the cuckoo. When we hear it, we stop what we are doing, look at one another, and smile.
I recorded the cuckoo, but it wasn’t as loud as I would have liked. You might have to turn your volume up to hear it!
Are you tempted by lilac? It is rather out of fashion, but may be time for a revival?