Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Another Rebloomer: Lovely Lilac "Colby's Wishing Star"

Frank Moro of  Select Plus Lilacs is one of the premier lilac growers on the planet and our favorite place to buy specialty lilacs, trillium, and other treasures for the woodland garden.

Several years ago, we ordered some trillium and other plants from this family nursery and when the boxes arrived, included with our order was a gift for us: a tiny twig rooted in a four inch pot. Included was a note from Frank that explained that this was a cutting from a new lilac variety that he had developed. The lilac, Colby's Wishing Star was named for his son who was his inspiration. He hoped to have it available for general sale the following year, but he wanted to share a plant with us.  We felt quite honored.

Until it was large enough to survive in a garden bed, Colby's Wishing Star grew and thrived in a pot on the deck outside of the kitchen and was sheltered under our deck next to the house for the winter. Frank's instructions had been to repot the plant into a larger pot each spring and to keep it in a pot until it was at least a couple of feet tall. The photograph at left was taken in August, 2007. That summer, we set the pot out in one of the garden beds for a few months where it continued to thrive, then returned it to the deck for winter shelter.

We were finally able to plant Colby's Wishing Star in the butterfly garden in the spring of 2008 and a year later, it was 2-1/2 feet high and wide and it had half a dozen small flower spikes. Last spring, it bloomed enthusiastically at the end of May but it did not repeat.

A dwarf variety, it grows to a maximum of 4 feet and it has reached that height and width. This spring, Colby's Wishing Star was covered once again with sweetly fragrant blooms throughout the last two weeks of May and the beginning of June.

Like many of the dwarf lilacs that the Moros offer, Colby's Wishing Star is a reblooming lilac. Now, I don't want to be thought of as a Doubting Thomas, but I had never planted a dwarf lilac before and I was skeptical that it would rebloom in our garden.

That was until today, when I was showing a friend through the beds and I stepped around a seven foot tall butterfly bush and came face to face with the fragrant lilac blossoms.

Colby's Wishing Star, May 27, 2011
Colby's Wishing Star, May 27, 2011
Colby's Wishing Star, July 22, 2011
Colby's Wishing Star, July 22, 2011

The shrub has filled out some in the past couple of months but what I realized is that in the spring, the butterfly bushes are cut down to about 8 inches and Colby's Wishing Star is the star of the garden. By July, the butterfly bushes are growing like weeds - 7-9 feet tall at this point - and this little shrub sits quietly among them, in the shade.

As you can see in the two photographs above, the flower spikes are reaching for the sun and we are going to have to spend some time this weekend doing some judicious pruning of the butterfly bushes to provide Colby's Wishing Star with a sunnier outlook.

A reblooming lilac is a treat for me and while the fragrance is not the traditional fragrance of the vulgaris that I love so much, it is a wonderful and much appreciated delight in our summer garden. Here's hoping we get an additional bloom in the fall, as sometimes happens with this particular lilac.

Colby's Wishing Star and Buddleia Black Knight

You can find more information on Colby's Wishing Star and Colby's Wishing Star Park HERE.


  1. That is beautiful. I put in Bloomerang last year and it is very small as that was all I could find. It did bloom this season which surprised me as I didn't expect it too with it's small size and it does now have a bud on it too. I am just hoping it grows a lot next year with this year finishing settling in. I will be very happy if it grows up as nice as yours.
    Cher Sunray Gardens

  2. Gorgeous delicate blooms from a lovely plant. I just love the colour, and you get it twice, brill!

  3. What a lovely plant and what lovely nursery people sharing it with you, it certainly looks happy in your garden.

  4. Hi S and C, knowing FM as the breeder of this plant, not just the seller, makes it really personal. I love that he named it after his son. He did a good job too, it seems a fabulous shrub. I can almost smell it from the pics! cheers, cm

  5. What a beautiful lilac. The color is so soft and radiant. Would love a lilac like this, but I've been told that they need some really cold weather, and it just doesn't get that cold here in the Houston, TX area for a lilac. You have a beautiful garden and it would be fun to walk through your huge garden with all that beauty. I wouldn't want to leave.

  6. Because of the background of this lilac it can grow from zones 3 to 9 and flower successfully.
    Thank you all for the wonderful comments about our lilac.
    Frank Moro

  7. Wow these pics are so lush and splendid! Thanks for providing some visual relief over here.


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