I have been having such fun! This glorious pre-summer weather has brought up all the endorphins and encouraged a lot of activities outside. A couple weeks ago I went to the tulip fields with daughter Emily and baby Margaret. Okay, I admit it was cold and raining that day but the happiness factor was still high.
Then a few days later my sweetheart and I went to the lilac gardens: delightful. So delightful, in fact, that I took daughter Lindsay and my 3 grands there for a picnic a few days later.
In between somewhere I went by myself to the Ceramic Showcase which is a huge convocation of potters and their wares in the Portland Convention Center.
I went by myself because from past experience I know that no one can linger as long as I can studying everything and talking to the artists and parsimoniously choosing which favorite things I will take home. Then today I went with all 4 grands, 3 daughters and Tech Guy to the Oregon Zoo. It was a picture perfect day: sunny but not too hot, blue sky, kids seeing some animals for the first time outside of picture books. I love being a Grammy! And, it was my birthday!
To be orderly I will first show the lilac gardens. The first sense we had of them was the fragrance outside the gate. Heavenly, sweet in the air. ( It took me back to childhood when we had “Toilet Water” perfumes, called “Eau de Toilette” by fancier folks, which means your basic toilet water. Frequently it smelled of lilacs.)
One of the most fascinating features of the Hulda Krager Lilac Gardens in Woodland, Washington is the story of the woman behind it. A German American who came as a toddler to the US and lived on a farm, she married and eventually moved back into her childhood farm home and raised her own children there. During a serious illness a friend brought her a book to read about a horticulturalist who hybridized corn or something. (Please, if this situation arises please just bring me a mystery novel.) This book spurred Hulda’s thinking and turned her love of lilacs into a work of science and a labor of love. She began the slow process of choosing the hardiest, most fragrant and best blossomed varieties and pollinated them by hand. It was a three year wait to see if the hybrid was successful and then more years to develop it. Her neighbors found her laughable as she put paper bags over her carefully pollinated blossoms to protect them from other pollens infiltrating. She nursed them indoors for years and then in stages helped them mature. She created many new lilac varieties in the United States and sent them world wide.
An impressive aspect to this story is that in 1948 the Columbia River and the Lewis Rivers flooded, covering most of Woodland. (In Portland, this was known as the Vanport Flood.) All of Hulda’s lilacs and the farmlands were ruined, but she tenaciously began the whole process over again. People who had received lilac plants from her in the past sent her starts of her own hybridized varieties, and the gardens grew. She outlived her children and grandchildren and kept working in her lilac gardens until she died in her late 90’s.
Look at the size of those buds!
Elsewhere on the grounds:
musicians played and sang, adding to the sensory delights
A wall of lilacs
A delightful place to relax
In her house:
A little snack
Trains pass by beside the garden.
School children on a field trip
Senior citizens come by the busload from their retirement villas.
Young and old enjoy the lilac gardens!
If you are interested in knowing more about lilacs:
For more of Hulda’s story, read Jane Kirkpatrick’s book Where Lilacs Still Bloom