Even though the arboretum already has a limited selection of Lilacs, this species was chosen for re-introduction into the present collection. With over 1,000 varieties available the possibilities are endless and the goal is to establish one of the largest collections in the region. Plantings will eventually occur throughout the arboretum grounds but focus on two areas. One will be the Dell, a nature walkway, located in the Waterways Collection. The pathway is secluded and the lilacs will prove a nice understory for the existing Cottonwoods, Douglas Fir, Buckthorn and Olive trees. The second area will be the re-establishment of the "Gardener's Walk", a Lilac pathway located on the top of the south hill of the Sensory Garden. This concept was originally introduced in the 1990's and two struggling plants still survive. Be sure to follow the progress in the years to come !

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Lilac-2022 Trial Species
Current Collection
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    Common Lilac               Beauty of Moscow               Charles Joly                Charles Wyman                        Paliban                          Lil'Miss Kim               Japanese Lilac Tree

Homestead Collection             The Dell                             The Dell                         The Dell                       Dottie's Garden                 Dottie's Garden             Sensory Garden

  Wolverine Garden            New introduction                Lynx Exhibit             New introduction                                                              Asian Garden               Amphitheater

Lilacs and What to Know

        Lilac Plant History: Learn About The History Of Lilac Bushes

     By Mary H. Dyer | August 15, 2019

Many gardeners claim newer lilacs are superior to old-fashioned lilacs, and it’s true that new cultivars are available in a tremendous variety of colors and forms. In fact, there are over 20,000 lilac cultivars and hybrids in existence to date. Old-fashioned lilacs, however, are irresistible to many, with their soft purple blooms and heart-shaped leaves. Masses of flowers arrive in early spring, attracting hordes of colorful butterflies, not to mention gardeners who fill vases with the sweet-smelling blooms.

History of Lilac Bushes

Lilacs are native to Europe and the temperate climate areas in Asia. The common lilac, (Syringa vulgaris), originated in Eastern Europe. In the United States, historians think the first lilacs arrived during the Colonial period and were planted around 1750 at the Governor Wentworth Estate in New Hampshire. The location is now a state park.

Thomas Jefferson planted old-fashioned lilacs in the late 1700s. We know this for sure because he documented the experience with numerous and lengthy notes in his garden book.

Growing Old-Fashioned Lilacs

Old-fashioned lilacs are tough plants that survive punishing cold but not heat and humidity. They are suitable for growing in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 7. As long as they have a period of winter dormancy, well-drained soil and at least six hours of sunlight per day, they require very little care.

Here are a few tips on growing these old-time shrubs:

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  • Be patient. Old-fashioned lilacs take up to three years to bloom for the first time.

  • Old-fashioned lilacs don’t need much fertilizer, but they benefit from a fresh layer of compost every spring. You can also spread a layer of well-rotted manure around the plant after blooming. If you think they need a little extra nutrition, give them a handful of balanced dry fertilizer in late winter. Don’t overdo; lilacs won’t bloom with too much fertilizer.

  • Provide about an inch (2.5 cm.) of water per week during dry weather.

  • Old-fashioned lilac shrubs require very little pruning, but you can remove old canes and dead or damaged wood after blooming.

The 2022 Program will include, but not limited to, the following cultivars:

MT. Baker, Bloomerang Dark Purple, Primrose, Wonder Blue/Little Boy Blue, Ludwig Spaeth, Madame Lemon, Ivory Silk Shrub form, Common White, Sensation.

We will also be introducing the following flowering plants:

Viburnum-Summer Snowflake, Viburnum-Pink Sensation, Cornus Controversa Variegata, Mock Orange-Common, Mock Orange "Sybil" and Robinia "Frisia"