The Many Shades of Lilac 5/31/2012

Until we moved to Mackinac Island for our summers five years ago, I never gave much thought to lilacs.  Before we bought on the Island, we’d come up for two weeks in July, thereby missing the lilacs blooming and the Lilac Festival by several weeks.  It was actually our second summer on the Island – when we arrived in May for the first time – that brought them to my attention, and ever since then the topic of “when will the lilacs bloom” has become almost as important as “when will the fall colors arrive”.

Being from the south, I didn’t know a lot about lilacs.  The closest thing we have to a lilac in Georgia is the crape myrtle – they’re even called “the lilac of the South”.  Our crape myrtles (we have two in the yard at the lake in Georgia) are white-blooming, but they come in pink and several shades of purple also – just like lilacs.  What crape myrtles do not have is that unbelievable perfume lilacs produce, and that perfume is hovering over Mackinac Island right now – a scent so sweet and heavy you could almost float on it .  The lilacs are in full bloom – not good for the Lilac Festival which doesn’t begin until June 8; but hey – no one has any control over when they bloom but the good Lord.  And who’s going to fuss about His timing?

Tonight I just want to share a few photos I’ve taken this week of the lilacs I see on a daily basis.  Most of these are in the downtown area, so you know there are hundreds more lilacs around the Island that aren’t even represented here.  It’s been fun for me this week to try and capture them in relation to something else – a home, a building, other trees, water, even a wedding carriage.

I sure wish I could attach a scratch-and-sniff add-on right here so you could inhale the perfume as you look at the photos.

Grey-white Percherons and the burgundy Grand Hotel omnibus, with lilacs blooming in the background. Does anything say “Mackinac Island” any better than this?

From the corner of Cadotte and Market, up to that first curve on the way to the Grand, the lilacs are putting on a major show!  These are some of the Island’s oldest lilacs.

The last and worst snow and ice storm of the winter took many of the over-a-hundred-year-old lilac bushes in Marquette Park. The ones that remain seem to be trying their best to make up in quality what they lost in quantity.  Maquette Park is a fantasy-land of lilacs.

I never tire of admiring all the different shades of purple these trees produce. From dark . . .

. . . to light . . .

. . . and everything in between.

Lavender Adirondack chairs enjoy the shade of a lilac bush so large I’d call it a tree – in the yard of what else . . . the Lilac House Bed & Breakfast!

A private tour buggy turns onto Market from Fort Street. The lilac bushes here are in front of the Market Street Inn and next to Weber’s Florist.

This wall of lilac bushes all but hides the Mackinac Island Public School, across Cadotte from Little Stone Church.

Lilacs form a canopy over the preparation of a wedding carriage.

Beautiful Trinity Church on Fort Street, perfectly framed by white lilacs on one side and lavender on the other.

Steven Blair couldn’t ask for a better setting for his Artistic Mackinac Gallery and Studio. Can’t imagine a shade of purple that’s not represented here.

The lovely McGreevy Cottage on Market Street.

I’m hoping some the lilacs you’ve seen here will last another week for the start of the Lilac Festival, and there are other later-blooming varieties that will fill in over the next couple of weeks.  But have no fear, Mackinac Island’s Lilac Festival is ten days of wonderful entertainment with everything from the arts, to good food, to the best parade in all of Michigan.  Come on up- I promise you will have a great time!

Schedule of Events for the 2012 Mackinac Island Lilac Festival:

Have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll see you right back here on Monday (or late Sunday night – you all know my schedule by now :))!  God bless.


35 thoughts on “The Many Shades of Lilac 5/31/2012

  1. Absolutely gorgeous! I’m blown away not only by the beauty of Mackinac but also by the vivid floral colors. Spectacular!

  2. Thank you for reminding me how lovely lilacs smell. I remember them as a child growing up in Wisconsin and miss them terribly in Tennessee. My husband has never smelled them, so when we settle on the island that will be on our list to experience.

  3. Wish we were going to make it there in time, but will miss the Festival by a week or so. But, we’ll get to enjoy them next year and for many years to come. Hope to be on island around the 20th. Can you recommend a couple of strong backs that could help us move?

    • Welcome to the Island, and you are so right. After this year, you won’t miss anything, cause you’ll always be here! Let me talk to Ted about any suggestions about finding you some help.

  4. amazes me how the down state lilacs were sooooo early! Long gone by now! Glad the Island waited for you!

  5. Breathtaking. Lilacs finished so long ago it seems downstate.Some frosts also did a number on the buds on ours down here. Warm winters are actually not a good thing!

  6. don’t mean to rain on your parade…but we DO have the pungent smells of the tea olive, the jasmine, and the honeysuckle in the south…….please don’t forget those fragrant smells…………………

    • I’d never forget those smells, Samille – just making a comparison between the crape myrtle and the lilac. We have honeysuckle blooming all around the condo, and I stop and breathe it in everyday just to get my south Georgia “fix”. Hope all it well with you and the Captain.

      > To: >

  7. So pretty! The old bushes remind me of the one we had in our back yard growing up. Ours was so big, and the branches were so thick we could cimb it! I have one at home now-it started to bloom this year and got hit with a hard frost before I could smell the flowers. Sure wish you could do that ‘scratch and sniff’ for real!

  8. These are so pretty, wish I could smell them. Brenda, I wanted to let you know that my sister, June Knight has gone to be with Jesus, it was last Sunday night. Please keep us all in your prayers, Thank you,
    Keep having fun, I so enjoy your blog, Beautiful there, Peggy Trowell

    • Peggy,
      I was so sorry to hear about June. Several folks in Sylvester emailed me about her passing. You and Vickie and the family are in my prayers. I can just see her and Mama “catching up” right now. Makes me smile.

  9. ONLY 10 days till we will be in mackinaw city. I hope the lilacs can last only 10 more We are going to try to go to the island that Monday. So give all them trees a good talking to please. Tell them to wait for us to get there and don’t forget to say please. 😉 Thanks for all the awesome up dates i have had so mush fun reading them and dreaming i could live there as well.

  10. Love all these lilac photos. One of my favorite photos of my husband and I is one we took on our wedding day on the island in the middle of a bunch of blooming lilacs. I grew up with lilacs, but now they always remind me of Mackinac. I hope some hold out for the festival!

  11. Absolutely beautiful pictures! I also wanted to comment on the Trinity Church photo. Such a beautiful shot taken head-on like that! For some reason we always seem to take it from an angle. It’s stunning straight on! Thanks for all you do to help us feel like we’re right there all the time. Sniff deeply for us!! 🙂

    • Thanks, Elizabeth. I’m the same way – Trinity Church from the angle. I got that one from about half-way up the ramp to the Fort front entrance.

  12. Yes, the Trinity Church photo is outstanding. The rest are great as usual. the lilacs out in the open in our area were blooming early but the frost hit them before full bloom and killed them. First time I’ve ever seen that around here. My neighbor has them along the property line and I really missed the beautiful smell. I would cut a few hanging over on my side and put them on the counter top over my sink. thanks for all the lovely photos. i always love them ALL!

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  14. I’ll bet almost everyone who read your blog smelled that delightful scent of lilacs–unless they live in the south or elsewhere and have never breathed in that heavenly aroma. I’m heading downstate this week and coming back the following week and trying to figure out if a trip to the island might work out. Will email you.

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