Every May since I moved to Sassafras house 8 years ago, I have enjoyed the heady smell of lilac when the lilac tree in my front yard blooms. Last Spring, the lilac was notably lackluster, but I attributed that to our unusual weather (a mild Winter and early Spring warmth followed by some unexpected April cold).
Last Fall, in preparation for the house painting, T helped me trim the shrubs around the house. When I went behind the lilac, I noticed more dead wood than expected on the tree. Come this Spring, there were some buds on the branches (lilacs set each year after their Spring bloom) but they never materialized into leaves or blossoms. As everything around the lilac unfurled with blooms and blossoms, the lilac looked lifeless. When I scraped below the bark on one of the branches the plant was dead. I gave it time , but as everything greened up, the lilac was a stark display of dead branches.
This past weekend, we cut the rest of the branches out and set JT to work digging a hole for a new plant in that corner of the front yard: a purple peony that T gave me for Mother's Day.
I first began to admire peonies when I lived in Nashville and they bloomed abundant flowers all over the place. I've tried before to plant one from bulbs and never met with much success. But this one is plenty healthy and will be a very welcome addition to my collection of plants.
I've not given up on a lilac, which I will eventually add back to my garden. But after so many years spent admiring peonies in other gardens, I'm very happy to have a peony in my own garden.