April 24, 2011

Lilacs are Here, There and Everywhere

Lilac 'Miss Kim' in full bloom in my home garden.
Chapel Hill, North Carolina; April 2011.
Fragrant and beautiful, lilacs are perhaps among the most romantic of the spring-blooming shrubs. There are modern offerings of this old-fashioned shrub that make it possible for me to grow lilacs here in my warm, zone 7b garden in North Carolina. Lilacs perform much better in the cooler northern zones. This shrub has been reliably deer and rabbit resistant in my garden. No munching, even though the deer walk right past the shrub year-round as they sneak through my shrubbery to drink from our water feature!

It has taken four years for my 'Miss Kim' to bloom abundantly. I first planted her in full sun and she toasted in summer. I transplanted her to a space between two tea olives (osmanthus fragrans) to give her some shade. Between the fragrance of the lilac and the fragrance from the tea olives, the combined perfume is very heavy and can be enjoyed from all area of my garden. Not unlike walking into a department store and being overcome by the scent of hundreds of perfumes!

Another reason why I squeezed 'Miss Kim' in between the evergreen tea olives is because she gets to be a bit dowdy looking when not in bloom. So, I let her bloom. Take her photo while she is stunning, then cut the panicles of perfume to bring indoors.

Lilac 'Miss Kim' (syringa pubescens susp. patula)
zones 3a-7b
4-6 feet
full sun (partial sun is better in the warmest zone)

While visiting JC Raulston Arboretum in mid-March, I found 'Miss Kim' blooming along with a cutleaf lilac (syringa x laciniata). The cutleaf lilac has an open, airy form and is taller and looser in structure.

Cutleaf lilac (syringa x laciniata)
zones 4-8
6-10 feet
full sun

Cutleaf lilac at JC Raulston Arboretum.
Raleigh, North Carolina; March 2011.
Blooms of cutleaf lilac.
Nearly everywhere we went in Paris—tucked into city streetscapes and along the River Seine; or growing in full glory in the parks, such as the Jardin des Plantes—lilacs were in full bloom for the first week of April.  While the shrubs were not labeled, there was no doubt about the fragrance! By the time we reached Provence, I had stopped taking photos of lilacs, but they were still blooming in abundance, especially in our quiet little neighborhood in Aix-en-Provence.

Lilac in full bloom in Jardin des Plantes.
Paris, France; April 2011.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. Deer and rabbit resistance varies based upon the animal population and availability of food. All company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks, copyrights, or patents owned by those respective companies or persons.
Freelance travel writer. My current fiction writing projects include a completed manuscript and several works in progress.

By the way, my name is pronounced fred-ah, not freed-ah. Thank you.

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