Updated: May 25, 2022
You do not have to have much plant knowledge to know what the common lilac looks like if you grow up in Spokane WA. We have a parade every spring celebrating this powerfully fragrant flower, where everything is decorated with the pale purple color commonly associated with this flower. This shrub can be found on almost every block, even growing wild on abandoned properties or out in unmaintained land. If lilacs are one of your favorite flowers, here are a few ideas this spring to make them last throughout the year.
(Purple lilac shrub mature and beautiful.)
The scientific name for lilac is Syringa vulgaris, a member of the Oleaceae family and is closely related to the olive tree. Drought tolerant and fast-growing this tough shrub makes for a great plant for any yard, giving interest all year from its heart-shaped leaves, the spectacular display of enormous clusters of flowers, even the delicate seed pods that decorate the shrubs during the fall and winter seasons. Taking the time in the winter months to learn about plants that grow in our climate has become a passion of mine. Learning the latten names and families that they are classified in helps me stay connected to the earth and inspires me to learn everything I can about the use of each part of the plant from the roots to the seeds, is it edible, which parts, when is the best time to harvest, and when does it bloom are all questions I ask about every plant?
border forsythia is in the same family, and flowering shrub with bright yellow blooms, that blooms just before the lilac shrubs. These two work well together when planted next to each other, expanding the length of visual delight (Forsythia x intermedia)
In the 1930s the local garden club in Spokane was encouraged to plant lilac bushes throughout the city, by the time 1938 rolled around there were nearly 150 shrubs planted in Manito Park. The city was then known as "The Lilac City" and the tradition of the annual Spokane Lilac Festival began. Today the park has well over 100 named cultivars and 23 different species, making this one of the most important parks on the west coast. If you are ever around Spokane during the early spring months I recommend taking the time to walk through this floral display of living perfume and enjoying the explosive displays of tiny clustered bouquets these shrubs give, for they only last a few weeks at a time.
Cut flowers do not do much for me, but every spring I look forward to these clustered blooms opening so I can take a few inside to enjoy and share some with my dear neighbor Gail. One of the first things that I planted in our yard after we moved in was the lilac shrubs lining our back fence. Slow growing at first, but filling out nicely now, this living fence is one of my favorite things to marvel at, watching it fill in year by year, while I patiently wait until these tiny shrubs grow to their max height of 25 feet tall! My favorite shrub lines my big brother's property and his radiant neighbor's fence line, taking photos every year around mothers day in front of the massive blooms have become a family tradition, that one day I hope to incorporate into our lilac fence.
(Mothers day photos in front of my favorite lilac in town.)
One of my favorite things to do with any hand-picked flower is to turn it into a liquid that can be used in multiple ways. Vinegar is a beautiful ingredient in any home but flavored and aged vinegar is a delicate delight that can be used to clean the home, in cooking, cordials and shrubs can be made with flowers soaking in white vinegar. Depending on the color of flowers you have your liquid can be anything from pink, purple, or yellow. Lilac vinegar is a spectacular thing to give as gifts during the winter months, bringing spring to every bottle!
use a clean glass container with a sealing lid, pack fresh flowers into a jar, fill with white vinegar. Place plastic cling wrap over the top before screwing the metal lid on, if using a mason jar to keep liquid off of the metal. place the container in a dark area and agitate once a day for two weeks. Strain the liquid through a coffee filter, keep liquid in clean glass containers. Use your new vinegar in bath water, as a cleaner for cutting boards, in cocktails, or vinegarette for salad and marinades!
Similar to vinegar made with flowers, you can use salt and sugar to cure and preserve them for later use. Lilac sugar added to teas, sprinkled on top of baked goods, and rim drinks throughout the year is another way to celebrate this fragrant flower. Flower sugars and salts add texture, color, and fragrance naturally to your bathwater, hand, and body scrubs. Decorating your kitchen and bathroom with beautiful jars of colored sugar and salt is a way to add an elegant feel. Roses, pansies, and lavender are a few of the flowers I collect in addition to our city's purple flowers.
(Lilac flowers up close.)
I am looking forward to this year's harvest of lilacs, and ways to preserve them. Handmade gifts are always the best, and personal touches make items even better. When the buds start opening and the fragrance of lilacs is filling our town, I hope you can take a little time to collect and preserve them to enjoy all year long! With this year's bounty soap and self-care items are in motion already! What will you be doing with your lilacs this year?
(Lilac sugar and salt.)
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Here is a list of my completed blogs! Learn a bit about Cold Process Soap, Christal Clear Soaps, and how I got started making all-natural fragrance-free soap.
2) *True cold process soap https://christalsglass.wixsite.com/christalclearsoaps/post/what-is-true-cold-prcoess-soap
3) *10 random facts about me https://christalsglass.wixsite.com/christalclearsoaps/post/10randomfactsaboutmyself
4) Activated bamboo charcoal https://christalsglass.wixsite.com/christalclearsoaps/post/activated-bamboo-charcoal-christal-clear-soaps
7 Rose & wildflower
8) holiday gifts
9) In the garden
10) What’s in my bag
11) Fall is here
12) Essential oils
14) Favorite self-care tips
15) Spices are not just for cooking
16) What I am thankful for
17) New in the shop/stocking up with Christal Clear Soaps
18) An accomplishment I am proud of
20) Selfcare during the holidays
21) Face masks
22) Matcha green tea
23) Goals for the year
24) My favorite planners
26) Special occasions
27) Get to know me facts
28) Lovers at home spa day
29) Where to find my soaps
30) Throwback to my old soaps
31) The language of love
32) Top 5 productivity tips
33) Express gratitude for people
34) Books I love
35) St. Patricks Day
36) Green soaps
37) Some of my favorite songs
40) Lilacs and spring flowers
41) Nightime routine
42) Pack an order with me
43) Graduation, Mothers Day
44) Some of my role models