Lilacs at the Central Experimental Farm

    Lilacs in the Ornamental Gardens    
By Blooming Time

EARLY BLOOMING LILACS - usually starting in the 2nd week of May

The first lilacs to bloom are Syringa oblata subsp. dilatata and cultivars of Syringa hyacinthiflora, bred by crossing S. vulgaris (common lilac, a native of Europe, and a mid-season bloomer) or its cultivars, with S. oblata or its subsp. dilatata (natives of Asia, and early blooming).

Victor Lemoine et fils nursery, Nancy, France, released the first cultivar 'Hyacinthiflora Plena' in 1878. Other examples of their hybrids are 'Berryer', 'Buffon', 'Catinat', 'Lamartine', 'Montesquieu', 'Necker', 'Turgot' and 'Vauban'.

Isabella Preston at the CEF originated eight cultivars of S. hyacinthiflora. In the Gardens are 'Grace', 'Maureen', 'Muriel', 'Norah', 'Patricia', 'Peggy' and 'Viscountess Willingdon'.

Dr. Frank Skinner at his nursery in Roblin, Manitoba, used S. oblata, subsp. dilatata with S. vulgaris, for obtaining cultivars of S. hyacinthiflora. These are very hardy and for the most part smaller and more compact than seen previously. In the Gardens are 'Charles Nordine', 'Churchill', 'Doctor Chadwick', 'Excel', 'Gertrude Leslie', 'Maiden's Blush', 'Mount Baker' and 'Pocahontas'.

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MID-SEASON LILACS - starting within the last half of May

S. vulgaris cultivars predominate in the Gardens, in the full range of colours (see Lilacs in the Gardens by Colour). Start times for these vary greatly over a two-week period.

Many were originated by Lemoine, France, and are popularly known as French hybrid lilacs. We have cultivars with origination dates ranging from 1876, for 'Jacques Callot', to 1949, for 'Madame Charles Souchet'. Plants directly from the Lemoine nursery were planted in the Lilac Rows starting in 1919.

Examples of Canadian originations include: 'Agincourt Beauty', 'Frank Paterson', 'Heavenly Blue', 'Lucelle', 'Pom Pom', 'Redbud', 'Slater's Elegance', 'St Joan', 'St. Margaret', 'Violet Glory', 'Woodland Blue' and 'W.T. Lee'.

Other mid-season bloomers S. chinensis and cultivars 'Metensis' and 'Saugeana', in the Lilac Rows, are round, attractive shrubs, with smallish leaves and masses of delicate flowers. They require little maintenance.

Many late mid-season lilacs, such as 'Palibin', 'Miss Kim' and 'George Eastman', have S. meyeri and S. pubescens in their genes. These are generally small shrubs and will be discussed under Small Lilacs.

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LATE-BLOOMING LILACS - usually starting the first week of June

Late-blooming lilacs are in the Villosae series of lilacs. The Preston Heritage Collection consists entirely of these lilacs, presenting an impressive show during the first two weeks of June. Some are also planted in the Lilac Rows amongst early and mid-season bloomers and this extends the blooming period there.

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            - usually starting the 2nd week of June

In the Lilac Rows are four specimens of the Japanese tree lilacs, S. reticulata. Three of these were obtained from the Lemoine nursery and planted in 1919.

They provide shade for the arbour, a resting spot half-way along the eastern Lilac Walk, and a beautiful backdrop for the Rose Garden.

In and by the Macoun Memorial Garden can be found S. reticulata 'Chantilly Lace' and 'Ivory Silk' (a popular street tree in Ottawa).

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Building 72, Arboretum, Central Experimental Farm, Ottawa, Canada K1A 0C6
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