Lilac

According to Greek mythology, lilac was created by a beautiful nymph named Syringa (which is lilac’s botanical name). Lilac at Quicksilver FarmEnchanted by her beauty, Pan, the naughty god of the forests and fields, chased Syringa through the forest. Frightened by Pan’s affections, Syringa escaped him by turning herself into an aromatic bush – the flower we now refer to as lilac. Smart girl, eh?

Lilacs were brought to the United States date in the mid 1750’s. They were grown in America’s first botanical gardens and were very popular in New England. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew them in their gardens. Lilac bushes can live for hundreds of years, so a bush planted at that time may still be around. Isn’t that incredible? Lilacs originated from Europe and Asia, with the majority of natural varieties coming from Asia. In Europe, lilacs came from the Balkans, France and Turkey.

Aside from the rose, there is no flower as beautiful and aromatic as lilac. Of the two, lilacs have a stronger scent that carries on the wind. Unfortunately, Lilacs bloom for only a very brief couple weeks in the spring. To prolong their fragrant presence in our yard, we grow a variety of Lilacs, including, early, mid and late varieties. With variety and luck, you may be able to see Lilacs in bloom in your yard for up to six weeks. Weather will have a lot to do with how long your blooms last. Once the buds begin to open, we pray for a cool dry spell. Once the blooms are gone, you still have a lovely shade bush, but they will not blossom again until fifty more weeks have come and gone.

We plan on propagating the varieties we have now. To do this, we take small shoots from an existing plant, selecting shoots which are one or two feet tall with good root systems. We will dig deeply enough to extract most of the root. The main root will be attached to the mother plant so we use clippers to cut it from the main bush. We carefully plant the new shoot in the location selected. Lilacs prefer full sun in neutral, rich soil that is high in organic matter. They typically require a location with good air circulation, to help reduce problems with powdery mildew, one of the biggest problems with lilacs. We add compost to the soil before planting. (We add compost to most everything around here except the food on our plates!) We plant three to five shoots in each area and water thoroughly. As with all transplants, transplanting in cooler weather leads to higher rates of survival. We keep the soil around the transplants moist, but not soggy. And, voila! More lovely lilac bushes to delight us each spring.

Most people buy lilacs from garden supply stores or catalogs. (Yes, they can be bought on the Internet and shipped.) Most buy common varieties of Lilacs as small bushes that are already 2 to 3 feet tall. Two to three years later, you will see your first bloom. If you would like to purchase a Quicksilver Farm lilac bush, contact us. You’ll have a beautiful bush with a story to go with it!

Lilacs are considered a harbinger of spring, with the time of their bloom signaling whether spring will be early or late. In the romantic language of flowers, purple lilacs symbolize the first heady emotions of love, while white lilacs represent youthful purity and innocence.