Friday, June 3, 2011

Luscious Lilacs

Ever since I was a child (a full half decade ago), lilacs have been my favorite spring flower and favorite fragrance.  I attribute my love of lilacs in spring and hollyhocks in summer to my maternal grandmother, who raised both in her meager cottage garden. She inspired my love of perennials and these luscious blossoms always evoke warm memories of the times I spent studying and finishing homework at her kitchen table on my way home from school each day.

My grandmother had a large hedge of lilacs in her front yard and when they bloomed, she would watch for me to come from school and meet me outside with a water glass. She taught me that putting them into water as soon as they were cut was the only way to be able to enjoy their beauty indoors.

Her lilacs were the common lavender lilacs native to this area. My mother gave us a shrub of both the lavender and the white as a wedding gift and these cherished bushes have grown enormously over the years and have been a vibrant and fragrant link to my heritage.

Over the years we've added many other cultivars to our collection.  Single, double, lavender, white and magenta, my only criticism about lilacs is that the bloom season is too short. We've managed to extend it by planting early and late blooming varieties, but it passes all too quickly just the same! 

These lilacs are at the perfect stage for cutting to bring indoors. Choose flower spikes with almost a third of the blossoms still to open for cutting for a bouquet.
The white lilac has smaller blooms but packs a sweet perfume.
The deep burgundy buds open into pale pink double and sometimes triple flowers. The fragrance is not as impressive as the blossoms (compared to the native common lilac) but this variety blooms at least a week earlier than all of our other lilac shrubs.

A gorgeous deep purple with double blossoms and an exquisite fragrance.

A truly exquisite fragrance and shades of blue-lavender in double and single blooms make this one of my favorite specialty lilacs.
This white lilac has it all - the blossoms are enormous, the largest of all of our lilacs, and the fragrance is exquisite. From Select Plus, we grew this from a snippet in a 4 inch pot and it bloomed this year for the first time.
The individual blossoms are twice the size of our other white lilacs.  The perfume of this intensely fragrant variety is underscored by a  subtle hint of vanilla.
This double red is truly a deep red with a delicate fragrance.
Planted next to the double red, this single red is a dark burgundy red with a mild but lovely perfume. It is just beginning to bloom as I post this.
This dwarf lilac, Colby's Wishing Star, sits in the butterfly garden next to the gazebo where it provides color and fragrance before the butterfly bushes fill out. It's wonderfully ftragrant and a prolific bloomer wrapped up in a 4 foot by 4 foot package.
Colby's Wishing Star
A day later, Colby's Wishing Star is covered with blooms, but very little fragrance. Could be all the rain, as I was sniffing early in the AM when fragrance is usually the strongest.

Most of our lilacs have come from Select Plus Lilacs in Canada, where the Moro family has the largest  selection of heirloom and specialty lilacs I've seen. We've gotten many of these shrubs as tiny plants that we've raised in pots for 2-3 years until they were large enough to plant in the ground. We're hoping to add more varieties from their exquisite collection in the future.


  1. Amazing collection! After reading your post, I am wanting Lilacs! I only have one so far, but will remedy that soon!
    Sweet memories,I bet every time you smell those Lilacs it reminds you of your Grandmother. How wonderful!

  2. After seeing the picture's of the lilac's, it sure brought back lots of memories. They were one of my favorite's that my parents had when I was a child. I loved the fragrance. Back then, everyone grew them. Now that I left Kansas and live in the Houston, TX area, we have our tropicals, but I miss the lilac's. It just doesn't get cold enough for these beautiful bushes. Thanks for sharing!

  3. wow what a variety and show of color...the heavenly scent was wafting through my computer

  4. Absolutely beautiful. Your varieties are stunning.


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