My neighbors’ gardens sport glorious lilac clusters, and I wanted my bush, who (to me plants are “whos,” not “whats”) had a special place in my yard, to be like that. I researched on the Almighty Internet and found detailed instructions: “In late fall, cut away twiggy growths. Strive for uniform shaping of branches. Spread 2 pounds of bonemeal around base, and water.”
I followed directions, watered, and looked forward to spring.
In March, the pretty heart-shaped leaves looked to be a joyous prelude to masses of lilac blooms. In April, the leaves grew thicker. Around the middle of May, I searched in vain for blossom buds at the tops. By early June, I knew there were to be no flowers, while lilac bushes on other properties flaunted them en masse. One neighbor’s lilac even had deep blue blooms.
Back to the Internet. I clicked on another pruning authority and read this: “Prune lilacs after they have bloomed in the spring. Do not prune much later than summer or you will be cutting away next year’s buds.”
I stared at the page and slowly grew a very hot burn. Very funny. Hilarious. I went to find the joker who had posted the first advice and give him a poke to remember, but his site was gone. I wondered how many lilac-tree owners he had caught. As for myself, I was reminded that not everything you find on the Internet is Gospel.
What’s your worst gardening mistake? Send it to GREENPRINTS, Broken Trowel Award, P.O. Box 1355, Fairview, NC 28730. If we print it, you’ll get a free one-year subscription and our GREENPRINTS Companion CD!
This article was published originally in 2016, in GreenPrints Issue #107.