Wall of Scent



The view out the car window

One of the things I love most about rural Washington County, NY is the fact that the roads turn into walls of lilacs at this time of year.


18th century house plus lilacs

The houses are old, lilacs are survivors, and suddenly, in mid-May, a bunch of undistinguished brush explodes into bloom and leaves the spectator agog.


Lilacs as big as the house

On a warm day, you could literally pass out from the scent while driving.


  1. I adore these gigantic and old lilacs. How tenacious and beautiful they are.
    I grew up in the midwest with lilacs, but here in Calif. they don’t thrive as much; I think they prefer colder winters.
    So enjoy the lilacs in New York and thanks for sharing the photos.

  2. I haven’t smelled a decent lilac in years but oh, how I remember sitting in my house upstate in May with the windows flung open, luxuriating in the heady scent of the lilacs. Mmmm…
    Thanks for the memory nudge.

  3. My mother is her her waning months. She’s lost her sight, hearing and most of her cognition. Last week my brother took her some lilacs, and on the second sniff, she smiled and said, “lilacs.” Testimony to the everylasting scent of these northern treasures.

  4. I don’t think I could live without the lilac at the end of my driveway that I manage to brush up against every time I get in or out of the car. This, by far, is my favorite part of Spring.

    Karen in DE

  5. Love the Lilacs, we have some low chill varieties here in So Cal, but still too picky for me. I was in Santa Fe a couple springs ago….wow are they pretty there.

  6. My house is full of the scent of lilacs now. We transplanted shoots from the old lilac “on the farm” when we moved into our house years ago. We now have huge tree sized “shrubs” in three locations. I lavishly fill all my vases with huge branches of them. Love spring in Minnesota.

  7. Does anyone know why the lilacs in Ontario are so much fuller and lusher than here in the States? could it be the longer, colder winter that puffs them up? I’ve seen a distinct difference not in the bush, so much, as in the blossom spreys–each individual blossom is larger, and all are closer together…??

    — Lucy

  8. My hill is full of the scent of lilacs, and when I come down to the little village of Shelburne Falls, famous for the Bridge of Flowers, the whole town is bathed in this iconic New England scent. I go about my errands, from waft to waft, and delight to delight.

  9. I carelessly yanked some shoots from the now wild garden of an old mansion. I transplanted them to the north side of my parents’ house. They are doing well and I think that they will survive despite the shortage of sun!

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