They’re early this year
This morning in light rain, purple lilacs began opening all over the Seacoast.
According to herbalist and writer Brigitte Mars: In the language of flowers, lilacs symbolize wisdom, young love and remembrance. Lilac’s floral scent is used to promote harmony and increase mental abilities and invokes long forgotten emotions.
It’s the New Hampshire state flower. Looks like our state tartan has a bit of lilac in it too.
The annual lilac festival at the Wentworth-Coolidge House in Portsmouth is scheduled for May 26 this year. I hope it won’t be too late! The grounds, on the shores of Little Harbor across from the island of New Castle, are reputed to be the site where lilacs were first planted in the United States.
From the NH Governor’s Lilac and Wildflower Commission, Lilac Basics and a bit of history:
The purple lilac became New Hampshire’s official State flower, in a most colorful manner, in the 1919 legislative session. It was opposed by nine other flowers, including the apple blossom, the purple aster, the wood lily, water lily, and goldenrod. The committee’s recommendation was approved by the House on February 20th and sent up to the Senate for concurrence.
The Senate developed considerable purple lilac sentiment and also considered the buttercup. Unable to muster majority support for any flower, the 24 members of the Senate turned to a novel solution. They placed the names of three flowers in a hat, blindfolded Senate Clerk Earle C. Gordon of Canaan, and ordered him to draw a name. The purple lilac, the mayflower and the purple aster went into the lottery, and the latter won the draw.
The Senate reported its unique decision to the House, which clung to the apple blossom, and the impasse was referred to a committee of conference.
The 10-man conference committee soon became stalemated on the flower fuss, and turned to another unique solution. It asked two botanists, Professor Arthur Houston Chivers of Dartmouth and Professor Ormond Butler of the state college to arbitrate the dilemma, and agreed to accept their decision.
Within a few days the two botanists informed the conference committee that they had also become stalemated. Faced with this deadlock added to its own deadlock, the conference committee voted eight-to-two for the purple lilac. Two members stuck to the apple blossom to the bitter end.
The House and Senate concurred with the committee compromise, without further argument, and Governor John H. Bartlett of Portsmouth signed the purple lilac into law on March 28, 1919.