Lilacs by Lynda Waterhouse


Here is my lilac mood board.

Inspired by a lilac bush in a shared garden in South London. I use the term garden loosely. It is a patch of ground paved over in the 1960s, so the story goes, because the space was used as a battery dump during the Second World War and the soil is toxic.

My neighbour planted the small bush in a raised bed but it was not happy so she lifted up one of the flagstones and replanted it. It thrived and began to grow out of the dead ground.

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land,

Mixing memory and desire,

Stirring dull roots with spring rain.

(T.S Eliot, The Wasteland)

This year there has been a fantastic show of flowers. At night when the petrol fumes are lying low its perfume sweetens my dreams.

Lilac, like love makes no distinction

It will open for anyone

Even before love knows that

It is love

Lilac knows that it will blossom

(Helen Dunmore, City Lilac)

Now, as the flowers are on the wane and are stained with brown, a gang of birds have moved into the garden: a sparrow family, a straggly robin, two blackbirds, a tiny wren and a mob of blue tits. They all ignore the upstart parakeet.

O were my love yon lilack fair,

Wi’ purple blossoms to the spring,

And I, a bird to shelter there,

When wearied on my little wing

(Robert Burns, O were my love yon lilack fair)


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