Lilac Blossom Newsletter
What rapture to drink in the balmy,
Warm air of spring, to languor wed,
And watch the clouds drift slowly, calmly
High in the blueness overhead;
To wander happily and idly
Across a field and past a stream,
To catch the scent of blooming lilac
Or chance upon a radiant dream!..
"My Love For You, Sweet Earth"
by Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev
Port Angeles, in the month of May is alive with the delicate color and aroma of old-fashioned white and purple lilacs(Syringia vulgaris). My daily walks through town to see my mom takes me past many of these venerable botanical members of the community. From year-to-year, for several generations these sweet lilacs have quietly displayed their scent and beauty in the many modest gardens which make up this small town. The shrub/tree(as some of the ones I came across were 10 feet or more in height) captures the spirit and beauty of a more innocent and gentle time and a whiff of their perfume has many pleasant associations for people who have grown up in places where they flourish.
This year I delighted in exploring the subtle bouquets which the lilacs displayed as I wandered through different neighborhoods on the way to my mom's house for our morning walk in the park with her two corgi's. There are distinct aromatic differences between the white lilac and various shades of purple ones; the white tending toward a softer, more floral-balsamic bouquet and the purple with their rich floral/fruit scent with a delicate earthy undertone. In exploring the different fragrant nuances that characterized them, I began to assimilate in my mind a selection of natural essences that might be used to create an "impression" of the ambiance created by lilacs in the Port Angeles setting. The following Lilac Blossom recipe is an endeavor to capture something of their beauty.
Lilac Blossom Perfume recipe
1/2 oz Ylang Extra eo
1/2 oz Jasmin grandiflorum abs
1/4 oz White Champa CO2
1 oz Mimosa 33% abs
3/4 oz Peru Balsam eo
1/4 oz Tagetes/Genda Attar
1/2 oz Styrax eo
1/2 oz Davana eo
1/2 oz Zdravetz eo
1/2 oz Basil methyl chavicol eo
1/8 oz Rose de Mai abs
1/4 oz Black Musk attar
3 oz Bois de Rose/Rosewood eo
Lilac/Syringa vulgaris CO2 Total Extract
Over the years many customers have asked about the availability of a natural lilac absolute but I have never encountered any authentic material. One may encounter Lilac "nature identical" absolutes which are composed of natural and synthetic isolates as well as floral absolutes and essential oils but according to the literature I have encountered the lilac flowers themselves yield a very tiny bit of fragrance when prepared as a concrete/absolute and was not financially feasible to produce on a commercial scale.
Colleagues of our though in Bulgaria who have set up a co2 extraction there, are producing a small amount of the co2 extract of Lilac/Syringia vulgaris and I received a sample of it a few weeks back. Here are my impressions of it:
The co2 extract of fresh flowers of Lilac/Syringa vulgaris is golden, soft waxy, material displaying a delicate, ethereal sweet, floral with a fine balsamic, fruity, earthy undertone. The odor of this fine extract continues to gently disperse its aroma into the atmosphere on perfumers strip well over an hour growing in impact with the passage of time.
It is the first pure lilac essence I have encountered and in my estimation captures the beauty of the fresh flowers. Port Angeles, where we live has many old lilac bushes and I have been smelling purple and white varsities throughout the spring on my morning walk.
The fragrance does vary from plant to plant but the basic bouquet is beautifully captured in the co2 extract.
It should be noted though that the aroma of the extract is delicate, gentle and soft and not overwhelmingly powerful but very lovely and is a joy to carefully explore. I think one of the great beauties of the total extracts is that it captures not only the beautiful aromas of the plants but also other non odoriferous components which have their own sensory impact albeit not an olfactory level.
Lilac in Literature
A huge cherry-tree grew outside, so close that its boughs tapped against the house, and it was so thick-set with blossoms that hardly a leaf was to be seen. On both sides of the house was a big orchard, one of apple-trees and one of cherry-trees, also showered over with blossoms; and their grass was all sprinkled with dandelions. In the garden below were lilac-trees purple with flowers, and their dizzily sweet fragrance drifted up to the window on the morning wind.
--from Anne of Green Gables
by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Peace paused at Elizabeth's side in the open doorway to drink in the rich fragrance of the lilacs, whose purple plumes nodded so temptingly from the hedge across the way. For days it had been part of her morning program to rush out of doors as soon as she was dressed to sniff hungrily at the lilac-laden air, but never before had they smelled so sweet nor looked so beautiful and feathery as they did this morning, for now they had reached the height of their perfection. Tomorrow some of their beauty would be gone; they would be growing old.
--from The Lilac Lady
by Ruth Alberta Brown
Out in the friendly, familiar yard, he looked curiously about him, basking in the sudden peace of it. A light wind stirred in the trees, the sky was a void of blue, the scent of the lilacs came to him. That was all reassuring; but something more came: a consciousness that he could translate only as something vast, yet without shape or substance, that opened to him, enfolded him, lifted him. It was a vision of boundless magnitudes and himself among them—among them and with a power he could put upon them. While it lasted he had a child's dim vision of the knowledge that life would be big for him. He heard again the confusion of voices, and his own among them, in far spacious places. He always remembered this moment. In after years he knew it had been given him then to run an eye along the line of his destiny.
--from Bunker Bean
by Harry Leon Wilson
The gentle mother by the door caresses still her lilac blooms,
And as we wander back once more we seem to smell the old perfumes,
We seem to live again the joys that once were ours so long ago
When we were little girls and boys, with all the charms we used to know.
"Lanes Of Memory"
by Edgar Albert Guest
The girl picked daisies and made them into a great bunch, while he sang vigorously, as unrestrained as a colt that has been turned into a meadow. On their left a vine-covered slope followed the river. Francois stopped motionless with astonishment: "Oh, look there!" he said.
The vines had come to an end, and the whole slope was covered with lilac bushes in flower. It was a purple wood! A kind of great carpet of flowers stretched over the earth, reaching as far as the village, more than two miles off. She also stood, surprised and delighted, and murmured: "Oh! how pretty!" And, crossing a meadow, they ran toward that curious low hill, which, every year, furnishes all the lilac that is drawn through Paris on the carts of the flower venders.
--from The Father
by Guy de Maupassant
When the day came for beginning the bird stories, warm spring showers were drenching the orchard, so that apple blossoms and raindrops fell to the ground together when the children gathered in the wonder room once more. This time there was no fire on the hearth; through the open window floated bits of bird-song and the fragrance of the lilacs—for there were lilac bushes all about Orchard Farm, close to the house, by the gate posts, and in a long hedge that ran down one side of the garden to the orchard itself. These tall bushes of purple and white lilacs were veritable music boxes, for almost every one held a Catbird's nest.
--from Citizen Bird
by Mabel Osgood
Two young people who had not long been married were walking up and down the platform of a little country station. His arm was round her waist, her head was almost on his shoulder, and both were happy.
The moon peeped up from the drifting cloudlets and frowned, as it seemed, envying their happiness and regretting her tedious and utterly superfluous virginity. The still air was heavy with the fragrance of lilac and wild cherry. Somewhere in the distance beyond the line a corncrake was calling.
"How beautiful it is, Sasha, how beautiful!" murmured the young wife. "It all seems like a dream. See, how sweet and inviting that little copse looks! How nice those solid, silent telegraph posts are! They add a special note to the landscape, suggesting humanity, civilization in the distance.... Don't you think it's lovely when the wind brings the rushing sound of a train?"
--from A Country Cottage
by Anton Chekhov
Beauty had touched me, Wisdom come to birth; and Love, whispering through the silence those marvellous words that sum up all spiritual experience, proved it to me:
"Be still -- and know. . . ."
I found myself moving slowly across the lawn again towards the house. I presently heard the wind mousing softly in the limes. The air was fresh and cool. The first stars were out. I saw the laburnum drooping, as though thick clusters of these very stars had drifted earthwards among the branches; I saw the gleam of the lilac; across the dim tangle of the early roses shone the familiar windows, cosy now with the glow of lighted lamps. . . and I became suddenly, in a very intimate sense, "aware" of the garden. The Presence that walked beside me moved abruptly closer. This Presence and the garden seemed, as in some divine mysterious way, inseparable.
There was a stirring of the dimmest and most primitive associations possible. Memory plunged back among ancestral, even racial, shadows. I recalled the sweet and tender legend of the beginnings of the world, when something divine, it was whispered, was intimate with man, and companioning his earliest innocence, walked with him in that happier state those childlike poets called -- a garden. That childhood of the world seemed very near.
--from The Garden of Survival
by Algernon Blackwood
"Oh, no," returned Anne cheerfully. "My head and shoulders are quite dry and my skirt is only a little damp where the rain beat through the lathes. Don't pity me, Diana, or I haven't minded it at all. I kept thinking how much good the rain will do and how glad my garden must be for it, and imagining what the flowers and buds would think when the drops began to fall. I imagined out a most interesting dialogue between the asters and the sweet peas and the wild canaries in the lilac bush and the guardian spirit of the garden. When I go home I mean to write it down. I wish I had a pencil and paper to do it now, because I daresay I'll forget the best parts before I reach home."
--from Anne of Avonlea
by Lucy Maud Montgomery
‘It didn’t save me from getting a dose of ship’s fever though, the week before we put Monsieur Genet ashore at Charleston; and what was left of me after bleeding and pills took the dumb horrors from living ’tween decks. The surgeon, Karaguen his name was, kept me down there to help him with his plasters—I was too weak to wait on Bompard. I don’t remember much of any account for the next few weeks, till I smelled lilacs, and I looked out of the port, and we was moored to a wharf-edge and there was a town o’ fine gardens and red-brick houses and all the green leaves o’ God’s world waiting for me outside.
--from "Rewards and Fairies"
by Rudyard Kipling
"LYDIA IS GONE THIS MANY A YEAR"
Lydia is gone this many a year,
Yet when the lilacs stir,
In the old gardens far or near,
This house is full of her.
They climb the twisted chamber stair;
Her picture haunts the room;
On the carved shelf beneath it there,
They heap the purple bloom.
A ghost so long has Lydia been,
Her cloak upon the wall,
Broidered, and gilt, and faded green,
Seems not her cloak at all.
The book, the box on mantle laid,
The shells in a pale row,
Are those of some dim little maid,
A thousand years ago.
And yet the house is full of her;
She goes and comes again;
And longings thrill, and memories stir,
Like lilacs in the rain.
Out in their yards the neighbors walk,
Among the blossoms tall;
Of Anne, of Phyllis do they talk,
Of Lydia not at all.
by Lizette Woodworth Reese [1856-1935]