Photo: rustman (Flickr)
For centuries, the common lilac (Syringa Vulgaris) has been prized in gardens. The shrubs like full sun. Each Spring, the flowers are formed on growth from the previous season, so pruning should only occur immediately after flowering when the thickest, overgrown branches should be cut to the ground.
A weekly summer watering and a little fertilizer in November will encourage good flower buds. Overgrown bushes may be rejuvenated by cutting them to the ground completely, but it will take two or three years before they bloom again.
Powdery mildew may occur on the leaves in late summer, but this can be reduced if air circulation can be improved. One of our lilac’s ancestors came from Constantinople, via England and wild specimens of lilacs have also been found in both Bulgaria and Afghanistan.
Hybridizers in France have produced a large number of more modern varieties that vary in flower, form, size, color and fragrance. Yet when I think of lilacs, I think of the lines by Alfred Noyes, “Go down to Kew in lilac time, it isn’t far from London.” Lilacs, despite the evidence, seem to be synonymous with English gardens.
To have the flowers last well in a vase, pick them early in the morning and stand them in warm water up to the flower trusses prior to arranging them. Removing the leaves and crushing the stems also allows for more water to reach the flowers, but they will only last a minimum of four days if one is conscientious as well as lucky.