A Bush in a Bucket

Lilacs are Aunt Shirley's favorite flowers. She had a lilac bush at her house in Havertown which was planted by Bubby. And that made it very special. But now, Aunt Shirley lives in an apartment with very little space behind her patio.


This is the lilac bush in my front yard. Toward the end of the season last year, I thought I'd try to fullfill a wish for Aunt Shirley.

I'm not much of a gardner, but I read all I could find on rooting a new lilac bush from an existing one and then I set to work. It seems that lilacs constantly re-root themselves wherever the lower branches touch the ground. So it was suggested that you dig up one of these new sprigs with as much of the root as possible.
So that's what I did. I planted this lonely sprig in a bucket filled with some rocks on the bottom, and then added some dirt. I purposely chose this particular old bucket because it had a hole in the bottom. There were two good reasons for making this choice. First of all, it would allow excess water to run out the bottom. But mostly I chose that bucket because what else was I supposed to do with an old bucket that had a hole in the bottom.

In any event, Aunt Shirley watered the sprig through the rest of the summer and left the poor thing outside to weather itself through the winter. It was the droopiest, saddest, and deadest looking sprig of twig you could imagine. But she called me last week and said, "It survived. And not only that... it flowered."

Clap your hands if you believe! From what I've heard, new lilac bushes are supposed to take seven years before they bloom. There must have been some magic in that holey old bucket of mine. I feel like I birthed a baby. And here she is...

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Copyright Yale Schwartz, 2009