May 1, 2010

Happy May Day!

I do mean May Day in the most innocent of ways too! None of this political bologna. It's a day to celebrate all things spring! I'm remembering what was done here in the Midwest when we were kids, which was making homemade May baskets out of something recycled, like a green plastic strawberry container from the grocery store. We covered them with crepe paper and attached woven crepe paper handles, then they were filled with paper flowers or violets if there were some blooming (or even clover and dandelions!), plus popcorn and candy corn, and maybe some other candy. We would put them on a neighbor's porch, ring the bell, and then run! My mom says that when they were kids, the practice was that if you were caught leaving a basket, the recipient got to kiss you! I had no idea that May Day was still observed here until I went past the floral department this week and saw piles and piles of candy around the flower displays - it took me a minute and then I realized that this tradition is still alive and well! What a fun, joyful little ritual.

Another joyful thing - our lilacs have bloomed again this year! This is one of my favorite plants, and cutting a few to bring indoors is such a luxury. We have this dwarf Korean variety...
and this amazing bi-colored variety called 'Sensation'. We used to visit a gorgeous lilac display at the Denver Botanic Gardens, which I've missed very much, but a friend tells us that Ewing Park in Des Moines is a great place to see lilacs, so that will go on our list of "Things-To-Do in Des Moines"! I came across this on the internet - Lilac Festival of Rochester, NY - which looks like a lilac lovers paradise. They call themselves the "Lilac Capital of the World", and when you add the jazz, blues, wine tasting, and food festival that goes along with seeing 12oo varieties of lilacs - this certainly becomes a bucket list item!

I also learned on the internet that there are some lilac bushes in the northeast that are dated at 250 years old. Now that makes you think twice about where you decide to plant a lilac bush! Thomas Jefferson and George Washington are both said to have grown them. If you've ever learned anything about Jefferson, you know that he was a first-rate gardener himself, and his gardens were considered a botanic laboratory of plants from around the world. If you ever get a chance to go to Monticello - go!

I do think that my favorite kind of lilacs are the old farm variety, especially this kind that keep on blooming year after year in a lonely old spot in the country. I always wonder about who first planted them, how many people have cut them and put them in a vase for the kitchen table to celebrate the return of spring...


  1. A little preview. This was what it looked like when we went in may 08 when they were all blooming.

  2. Oh, thank you! That looks lovely.