Friday Snippets: “Smash” Their Stems with a Hammer


Any lilac is ‘easy’: they need no pruning, though it is most advantageous to cut off the faded flowers, this is really important; they are perfectly hardy; and very long-lived unless they suddenly die back, which sometimes happens….By the way, if you strip all the leaves from cut branches of (lilac) they will last far longer, besides gaining in beauty.  Try. And smash the woody stems with a hammer.

-Vita Sackville-West
May 1948


When we moved into our house about six years ago, I was ecstatic because we had two thriving lilac bushes.  Then, for reasons I can’t remember, we pruned them.  For two years they struggled to bloom. Vita is right, they don’t need pruning!

Now, following Vita’s instructions I simply cut off the “dead” blooms and they’ve been blooming very well in recent years.  Come Mother’s day I’ll treat myself to a bouquet cut from my own backyard and I won’t forget to pluck their leaves and smash their stems.  This trick also works with other blooms cut from bark-like stems like forsythia or a catkin. Try.

Happy Mother’s Day to you and yours.

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