Set in the Arboretum of Burlington’s Royal Botanical Gardens, the Lilac Dell is bursting with early blooms in 2010, due to the unseasonably warm spring.
The RBG boasts the largest collection of lilacs in the world, 800 species and varieties from around the world. At dusk, apparently the best time to bring your nose to a lilac, the perfume is cupped in the bowl of the dell like an offering. We recommend you inhale.
So many specimens are here, that the differences between them can be slight to the untrained eye. But all are labelled, and the interpretive walk at the entrance features informative signage.
That’s how we learned, for example, that the lilac’s colour and fragrance can depend on the previous summer’s weather, as that is when lilacs set their buds. Too hot or too wet, and the fragrance will suffer. So it’s possible that the 2010 vintage isn’t the best year.
Sarah was on the hunt for the definitive “grape-popsicle” shade of dark purple. I was just there to enjoy.
Both of us chose to visit the RBG rather than a garden centre, as has been our Mother’s Day tradition for many years, so that we could remove ourselves from plant-buying temptation. It worked!
And it might be the beginning of a whole new tradition, starting next year.
The lilacs in this post, from top to bottom, include: the pretty-in-pink Syringa x hyacinthiflora ‘Maiden’s Blush’, the double white and nicely fragrant S. vulgaris ‘McMaster Centennial’, the pretty-close-to-grape-popsicle purple S. vulgaris ‘Znamya Lemina’ silhouetted against the white of a massive, native Cornus florida, and the dainty and fragrant double pink S. oblata dilatata hybrid ‘Annabel’.