“I had an article idea for you,” Chris Orange said. “Think about the old farmhouses you’ve seen, and how often you see lilac bushes.”
Chris Orange is the park manager of Buckley Homestead County Park in Lake County, Indiana. As sharp as a new razor and a frequent inspiration for articles on this site, Chris is a walking file cabinet of Indiana lore. Also, he’s the brother of the co-founder.
Yes, I had seen lilac bushes frequently on the site of old farmhouses. I thought of several I had seen in a line, usually towards the back of the property. “I’ll bite. I assumed it was decorative,” I said.
Chris shook his head. “Trust me, they didn’t spend much time a hundred years ago bothering with landscaping. That’s a pretty recent thing. Lilac bushes—“
“Lilac bushes or lilac trees?”
“Bushes, usually. The trees get about twenty-five feet tall, the bushes only a dozen or so. And the bushes are more fragrant.” Chris leaned back in his chair and steepled his hands. His degree in education shined through at moments like this. “They’d often plant them for two reasons: One, to mark the grave of a miscarriage or bury placenta after a birth.”