April 9th, 2012
by Janet Clark
It’s not every Easter you’ll have lilacs gracing the dinner table. But events conspired this year: we had a fairly early Easter and an extremely early spring, so instead of hyacinth or tulips, my all-time favorite flowers served as centerpiece.
The common lilac, whose botanical name is Syringa vulgaris, is an old-fashioned favorite found throughout the temperate zone. There are hundreds of varieties and colors of lilacs to choose from, ranging from light or deep purple to white to burgandy. I prefer the most fragrant types: while the pretty flowers are sweet, the lilac’s main selling point is its strong scent. I like to plant a bush by my bedroom window and wake up each morning to that lovely smell. Most fragrant varieties include the deep pink Congo, the lavender blue President Grevy, the Angel White and the French lilac, also known as the common lilac, whose scent is anything but common.
I love lilacs not only for their scent, but because of how easy they are to grow. Lilacs do need a sunny spot and some fertilizer in early spring, and they do well if you prune the center of the bush after the blossoms have faded, but other than that, very little maintenance is required. They do require decent drainage; if the spot you want to plant them falls short in that department, add sand or fine gravel to the soil going down ten inches and mix the topsoil with peat. Prune them after they have blossomed, removing about one-third of the inner canes to encourage new growth next year. Plant new lilacs in the spring or fall.
Lilacs last for many years and provide a lot of pleasure while requiring little time or effort. Just one more reason lilacs are scentsational!