After the long winter, I am eagerly awaiting the lilac blooms this spring.
Last spring the lilacs had an off year, due to some unexpected winter weather in April. The cold weather froze out many of the flower buds, and though we did get a few blooms, it was short of spectacular and not worth writing home about.
But this year, I am expecting spectacular.
Starting with the common lilacs and ending with my Japanese tree lilac, I should have nearly six weeks of lilac blooms.
First to bloom in late April will be the common lilac, Syringa vulgaris. This is an old-fashioned shrub which gets rather large and is what most people think of when they think of lilacs.
The common lilac is best planted in a mixed shrub border so that later on when all the leaves have powdery mildew on them, and they will, it won’t be such an eyesore.
The buds pictured above are on a common lilac in my neighbor’s side yard, just across the property line from my yard, so I get to enjoy it too. I also have a white-flowering common lilac, part of a shrub border, or it will be once I plant some more shrubs around it.
Sometime around mid-May, my Miss Kim lilacs, Syringa patula 'Miss Kim', will be in full bloom. They are more compact than the common lilac and top out at between five and six feet. I have three along the side of my house as a foundation planting where there are no windows to block.
'Miss Kim' lilacs are extremely fragrant when blooming and because they bloom around Mother’s Day, I usually take a bouquet of them to my Mom.
Also around mid-May, the Meyer lilac, Syringa meyeri, starts to bloom and is also quite fragrant. It is also a good lilac for a foundation planting, especially near a window, because it stays around three feet tall without pruning. When it is blooming, open the nearby window and let the smell come in to your house!
Finally, in late May or early June, my Japanese Tree Lilac, Syringa reticulata 'Ivory Silk', will bloom. It is a small tree with white flowers and is a surprise to most people when they see it blooming. They always ask “what’s that?” because it isn’t a very common tree. But I don’t see why it shouldn’t be!
With my white flowering common lilac, four ‘Miss Kim’ lilacs, three Meyer lilacs plus a Japanese tree lilac and my neighbor’s ‘borrowed’ lilac, I have a full complement of lilacs and thought I was pretty much done planting lilacs.
Then my aunt sent me a note asking me about a ‘Lincoln Lilac’, which I believe is the blue flowering lilac, Syringa vulgaris ‘President Lincoln’. She had read at one time that to celebrate the bicentennial of the birth of Abraham Lincoln in 2009, the Master Gardeners were going to plant one of these lilacs at every elementary school in the state.
While I could not find information on that project, I did become intrigued with this particular variety of lilac and decided that I should have one to plant in my own garden to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Lincoln.
After all, my ancestors lived near Abraham Lincoln where he grew up in southern Indiana and were friends of the Lincoln family. In fact, David Turnham, my great-great-great-grandfather, loaned Lincoln the Revised Laws of Indiana to read in 1827.
Perhaps reading about these laws awakened Lincoln’s interest in studying law and going into politics?
I tell people this story to point out that you never know how you might influence someone when you loan them a book, have a meaningful conversation with them, or plant the seeds of an idea in their mind.
You, yes you, might influence someone in some small, positive way, someone who is destined to go on to do great things.
So freely share your books, ideas, and insights with others, and then, if you garden where lilacs grow, go plant a lilac this spring. You won’t regret either action.