Last summer we were forced to admit that our lilac tree was dead. It was a hybrid - a lilac bush grafted onto a dwarf tree (fruit tree, maybe?), a part of the original landscaping when we built our house in 1988. It was planted in a small area surrounded by the house, the driveway, the brick walk and the concrete step. We are not good gardeners, I must confess, and the only food it got was the occasional layer of mulch. In 2003 it was half uprooted during Hurricane Juan, and it never fully recovered after that. Two years ago it bloomed on only one side, and last summer there were no leaves at all.
And yet, for those 26 years, it gave us incredibly fragrant blossoms every spring. Every fall, its leaves would drop as Hallowe'en approached, and I'd prune it back so the branches wouldn't poke at little trick-or-treaters coming to the front door, and decorate it with ghosts and witches. When our kids were growing up, we decorated for Christmas, too, and the lilac tree was hung with mini-lights and tiny red ribbons.
So it was sad to see it die (shocking conclusion: we should have fertilized it!) but by that point there was no going back to do things over. I went to the nursery to select a new victim, and came home with a butterfly bush.
Here it is last spring:
And now it looks like this:
It has been blooming steadily for weeks. Here's a bloom up close and personal:
They have a very sweet, fermented smell which I suppose is a part of how they attract butterflies. I have yet to see any butterflies on it, but the hummingbirds have visited a few times.
And it's deer-resistant!
Not ant-resistant, though - see the holes in that leaf in the last picture?
Ah, well, can't have it all :)