The name “lilac” (Syringa Vulgaris) comes from the Persian word meaning bluish. Purple lilacs considered the symbol of first love, are called the queen of shrubs.
The photo (left) is part of a series taken by Carla Coulson, a professional photographer who has done a series of similar photos of young women carrying massive bundles of flowers down a street in Paris.
French nurserymen so loved and nurtured lilacs that France became known for its beautiful lilacs…French hybrids. If you’ve been to Paris in the springtime, you have no doubt happened upon the sweet smell of lilacs in the air.
The charming bistro in Montparnasse in Paris, “La Closerie des Lilas”, (meaning small enclosed lilac garden) was named for the lilacs that once surrounded the cafe.
Lilacs originally came from Eastern Europe and are in the same family as olive trees. These cold-hardy shrubs (trees), zone 3-7, require a dormant period of cooler temperatures to trigger flowering.
Demanding little effort, lilacs do best in a sunny location (6 hours a day), well-drained soil, and some compost added in the spring. If you over-fertilize lilacs, they will not bloom. This may explain why lilacs grown in public urban places bloom year after year with very little TLC.
If lilacs are left unpruned they can grow up to 30 feet tall, however, it’s best to prune soon after the flower petals start to run brown. This encourages the shrub to produce large blooms for the following spring.
For many years lilacs fell out of favour for modern gardeners, however, in the last five or so years they are making a comeback.
I’m always thrilled when my lilacs start to bloom, and for the first couple of weeks in June, the house smells heavenly. It marks the beginning of “garden bouquet season“…first the lilacs, then the peonies, then the roses and in the fall, the hydrangeas. Ahhhh……….