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Lilacs Grounds credit Wave Hill 5

Lilacs Ablooming

April 30, 2020

Surely one of the best-loved moments each spring is the fragrant, luscious blooming of lilacs. That moment has arrived at Wave Hill, even if we are not there to bury our noses in their intoxicating scent.

Syringa x hyacinthiflora
Syringa × hyacinthiflora
Syringa vulgaris Miss Ellen Willmott
Syringa vulgaris 'Miss Ellen Willmott'

Found in front yards and gardens all over the Northeast and Midwest, almost universally at older homesteads, these old garden lilacs are usually Syringa vulgaris, but there are two dozen species. And counting hybrids, there are more than 2,000 varieties, with, according to experts, seven color groups and many shades and flower forms among them.

Syringa x Julianne 2
Syringa × 'Julianne'
Syringa afghanica
Syringa afghanica

Despite the variety, though, it is the scent of lilac that has the power to pull us close, evoking memories of a favorite time associated with its scent. Lilacs are also the first noticeably fragrant flowers of spring, and that may reinforce the deep sensory impression they create for so many of us.

Syringa vulgaris Decaisne
Syringa vulgaris 'Decaisne'
Syringa Edith Cavell 2
Syringa 'Edith Cavell'

At Wave Hill, they occupy a special place in the garden landscape. At one time or another over the years, several dozen varieties have clustered together in a pretty row along the eastern edge of the Lower Lawn, easily accessible along the drive below the Pergola. Indeed, the fragrance often greets visitors before they reach the balustrade to view the lilacs from above.

Lilacs Grounds credit Wave Hill 13