The lilac bush or Syringa vulgaris is a deciduous plant and a member of the olive family. It originates from South Eastern Europe and Eastern Asia and thrives in a sunny position. It will grow in a range of soil conditions but prefers a well drained humus-rich soil. Lilac should be planted in spring or autumn.
Lilac is perhaps best known for its delicately fragranced blossoms ranging in colour from purple to blue, pink ,white and yellow. 25 species of lilac are available. Its most fragrant varieties are usually medium to dark purple.
Lilacs produce tiny shoots around the base of the trunk and these can be used to propagate new plants easily. It can also be grown from seed, slowly. It is a hardy low maintenance shrub and a well planted bush can last for decades. It can grow to nine metres in height providing shade in the garden or even a natural fence.The dwarf variety will grow up to 8 feet. Lilac does not need pruning until it has reached 6-8 feet tall. After this keep it at desired height by pruning after flowering.
French flower breeder Victor Lemoine was the creator of many of the varieties enjoyed today. He is thought to have developed more than 150 cultivars between 1876 and 1927. In Lemoine's honour the term (French lilac) is still used to refer to all double-flowered lilac varieties.
Some white blossomed varieties have no aroma. Other scented varieties will not smell when the weather is cold or damp. Warmth releases the essential oil produced by lilac flowers and thus regularly used in perfumery. I am sure many of you, dare I say mature ladies, remember Morny's French Lilac talcum powder.
Lilac flowers are edible and can be used in jams, jellies and liqueurs even fried to make lilac fritters.
There is often folk lore associated with our plants. In Greek mythology, Pan, the god of the forests and fields became besotted by the nymph Syringa. Afraid of Pan who chased her through the forests, Syringa metamorphosed into a lilac bush to escape from him.
I am sure there are many more facts about lilac that you will find and maybe decide to plant a lilac and enjoy its beauty and perfume for many years to come.