Book of the Week #5

Lilacs: The Genus Syringa by Fr. John L. Fiala (Portland, Oregon: Timber Press, 1988)

New Hampshire continues to be covered in ice and snow -- with no real hope of a reprive for several more months. So, what better book to look at this week than one about New Hampshire's harbinger of spring, the lilac.

There is a newer edition of this book, but this is the one the NH State Library has and, because of where it is shelved, I walk past it every time I come into the library headed for my office. Today -- when the "hot spot" in the state is Portsmouth at 20 degrees -- it drew my attention. It is filled with history, botanical and planting information, and beautiful photographs. The author is very opinionated about lilacs -- and occasionally quite funny.

At the very beginning of the book there is reassurance for us about our northern New England climate -- which does support fabulous lilacs:

"Lilacs, to the botanists called Syringa, have a fascinating history when one considers thier origins, their great variety and the migrations that have made them at home in all the colder regions of the earth. They are not the children of the very warm climates nor of the tropical sun. They are natives, mountain dwellers, of the colder regions requiring a length of cold weather to set their fat buds for bloom. Recent experiments show that they will grow in some of the southerly regions where frost and drought are minimal. They are best where winters are cold but not arctic." (p. 5)

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