Fragrance By Proxy? – Lilacs!

Today was another continuation of the early March cold spell at the gardens although the sun did come out and we’ll have some warming yet this week!  I delivered seeds to one of our growers this morning and have another delivery tomorrow.  Collectively, these seeds will result in over 100,000 plants for the gardens and over 20,000 for our Spring Plant Sale (veggies and herbs!).  Larry H., Big John and Cindy all worked on Holiday Light Show (HLS) related duties as part of our dismantling and packing away of the event.  Bobby K. was in for a project and we also saw Kathy P., Urban, Kay, Maury and a couple others throughout this chilly day.  Unfortunately the weather hasn’t cooperated much the last couple of weeks for us to get out in the gardens for HLS duties, pruning or pre-spring preparations but we’ll continue to work on this process and eagerly await more conspicuous signs of SPRING!

I eagerly look forward to lilac (Syringa sp.) season in 7-8 weeks if the weather cooperates and am a big fan of the color and fragrance they bring to the gardens.  While they can have challenges with diseases and many gardeners are unsure on how to properly prune them, they really are relatively carefree and new selections bred for disease resistance, compactness and/or repeat blooming continue to enter the marketplace annually.  One of the largest lilac collections in North America is curated at Longenecker Gardens at the UW Arboretum (Madison, WI) with the earliest lilacs installed in 1935.  For about 20 years, my family has visited Longenecker Gardens to catch the lilacs at peak bloom (all of these photos are just some of the hundreds of selections they have on display).  The two photos above show Syringa ‘Declaration’ in bloom (different stages) which you can almost smell!  If you catch the timing right, you can still see magnolias finishing bloom as lilacs and crabapples take over the show.  Below is a miscellany of colorful and fragrant selections arbitrarily selected from my vast photo library of lilacs which the camera always loves!

Syringa x hyacinthiflora ‘Evangeline’ (above)

Syringa laciniata (cutleaf lilac) – above

Syringa vulgaris ‘Marc Micheli’ (above)

Syringa vulgaris ‘Arch McKean’ (above)

Syringa vulgaris ‘Charles Joly’ (above)

Syringa vulgaris ‘Gortenziya’ (above)

Syringa vulgaris ‘Marie Francee’ (above)

Syringa vulgaris ‘President Roosevelt’ (above)

Syringa vulgaris ‘Purple Heart’ (above)

Syringa vulgaris ‘Albert Holden’ (above)

Syringa vulgaris ‘Charles Lindbergh’ (above)

Syringa vulgaris ‘Dr. Charles Jacobs’ (above)

Syringa vulgaris ‘Dwight D. Eisenhower’ (above)

Syringa vulgaris ‘Flower City’ (above)

Syringa vulgaris ‘Hugo Koster’ (above)

Syringa vulgaris ‘Martha Stewart’ (above)

Syringa vulgaris ‘Mme. Florent Stepman’ (above)

Syringa vulgaris ‘Spokane’ (above)

Syringa vulgaris ‘Triste Barbaro’ (above)

Syringa vulgaris ‘Yankee Doodle’ (above)

Syringa x chinensis ‘Orchid Beauty’ (above)

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