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Lilacs for Central New York Landscapes


The icy blue flowers of dwarf Korean lilac are lightly fragrant.I enjoy the intense fragrance of lilacs as much as anyone. However, I’ve always been hesitant to include them in landscape designs as I’ve generally considered them to be "one shot wonders."

What I mean by this is that for as beautiful and fragrant as lilac blossoms are, once they fade these common shrubs that have no other outstanding ornamental traits such as colorful fruit or fall foliage. They don’t even have an interesting winter branching habit! They’re also large, coarse-textured plants that can cover eighty to one hundred square feet (10 feet by 10 feet) or more of ground, which is always at a premium - especially in smaller properties.

So, for 98% of the year (fifty one weeks), lilacs are essentially a liability in landscape settings - at least in my opinion.

A few years ago, however, while visiting Highland Park in Rochester, I learned is that there is actually a six to eight week range of bloom times within the genus Syringa!

Doing more research, I learned that lilacs can be grouped into early, mid-, and late blooming categories.

With this in mind, click on the links at right for brief descriptions of just a few of the more readily available lilacs that fall into each of these categories. And, once you’ve selected varieties from each of the categories, I’ve provided the names and addresses of mail-order nurseries that offer a wide selection of less common lilacs.

Armed with the information on these pages, I hope that you’ll never again settle for just a “white,” “pink,” “blue,” or “purple” lilac!