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Growing lilacs is easier than you think

Wednesday, 8th May, 2019 4:44pm

By Margaret Griffin

You know summer is arriving when the garden is wafting with the fragrance of lilac scent and it brings us such sweet delight.

Lilacs thrive on neglect and provide such a great way to welcome the coming of summer. Every gardener should find a sunny position to grow at least one lilac in their garden.

Syringa is a member of the olive family, along with other such ornamental plants as ash trees, forsythia shrubs, and privet shrubs.

The outstanding quality of many lilacs is the smell of their flowers. They are among the most fragrant flowers available to gardeners in cold climates. The smell of syringa blossoms is one of the most unforgettable aromas of the plant world.

I also love standard lilacs to instantly add height, drama and sweet perfume to your garden.

Lilacs need full sun; if they are grown in partial shade, they will not bloom well. If they are growing in full shade, they will not bloom at all.

It is important to make sure that your shrub is getting a minimum of six to eight hours of sunlight each day. Since lilacs are considered low-maintenance shrubs, the general care of lilac bushes is minimal, with exception to regular pruning.

Although lilacs tolerate a range of soil types, they prefer well-drained, humus-rich soil. Therefore, working compost in with the soil will help create a suitable planting soil for them. They should be watered thoroughly but not too often, as lilacs do not like their roots to become saturated.

The most important thing to remember when pruning your lilac is that it blooms on old wood. This means that the flower buds were formed last year, so if you prune in the fall or the spring, you will be cutting off branches that have flowers buds so your shrub will not bloom well or not at all. The best time to prune is right after your bush has finished blooming. It has not yet had time to form new buds for next year so you won’t have to worry about accidentally cutting off next year’s flowers.

There are so many lilacs to choose from. A bush lilac will give a cottage garden bed a beautiful backdrop or else a standard tree lilac that will instantly add height, drama and sweet perfume to your garden.

Here a few of the best varieties to choose from:

Madame Lemoine is a true lady among lilacs, therefore we should not state her age. So let’s just admit that she is a long-time star in the lilac sky! Irrespective of the amount of newly bred varieties, she is still the queen among snow white flowering lilacs. This award-winning syringa vulgaris Madame Lemoine is an upright, deciduous shrub with large, showy panicles packed with amazingly fragrant, double, white flowers. This will be a true feature in your garden.

Stunning colour, stunning scent! Another award-winning syringa, Katherine Havemeyer is an upright, deciduous shrub, spreading with age, with dense panicles packed with amazingly fragrant, double, lavender-purple flowers which fade to lilac-pink. If you've been looking for a reason to purchase a garden bench, plant a Katherine Havemeyer lilac. The lush, bright pink panicles are as appealing to touch as they are to smell. Sitting beneath its May blossoms while you sip a cup of tea feels positively decadent.

A highly regarded French hybrid, Charles Joly matures into a large, upright shrub. Add double magenta flowers that are extremely fragrant, and it's no surprise that this lilac was given the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. Charles Joly is one of the larger lilac varieties, which is great for gardeners who love to harvest armloads of cut flowers.

As a shrub that can live for decades, it's important to choose a lilac cultivar with a timeless appearance. A white-blooming shrub like Madame Florent Stepman can give the spring garden a traditional look, while complementing any house colour.

So which lilac will you be choosing for your garden?

Griffins of Dripsey has a great range of summer bedding, container plants and trailing plants for your hanging baskets - all grown in our own nursery here in Dripsey. If you would like to add instant colour to your garden or patio, then here at Griffins, we can help choose the perfect combination of plants for your containers and baskets. Call Griffins of Dripsey on 021-7334286.

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