SYRINGA or LILAC

FLOWERING SHRUB. Note that syringa is the correct name for lilac. The mock orange sometimes called syringa is philadelphus . Lilacs flower in May and June, growing to 12 ft. or more when well established. They succeed on most soils but only do really well and bloom freely where the land is in good heart and are always happy on limy ground. As they are likely to remain in the position for many years, it is worth going to some trouble when preparing the soil. Dig two spits deep and incorporate plenty of compost, well-rotted farmyard manure etc. plus bonemeal or basic slag where the land is on the heavy side. If the soil is very light and sandy, add sulphate of potash at about 3 oz. per sq. yd. — the precise rate is unimportant. An annual top dressing of any complete fertiliser applied in early spring is always helpful. Keep a sharp watch for suckers from the base, as named varieties are sometimes grafted on to the common lilac, Syringa vulgaris. Remove the old flower heads directly they fade, at the same time cutting out any obviously weak shoots. Severe pruning is not recommended. Transplanted lilacs are nearly always slow to settle down and may not produce flowers of normal size for about 3 years. It is a good plan to remove unopened flower buds the first season after planting. Note that many of the modern varieties are not markedly fragrant, though the colourings are most beautiful. The species are often more strongly scented. Syringa vulgaris, usually lilac or reddish-lilac, is variable in colour and is very fragrant. It will grow to 20 ft. even when more or less neglected and was formerly widely grown in gardens. S. persica, the Persian lilac, has rather narrow leaves and richly scented lavender-lilac flowers. It is much shorter in growth to about 6 ft. S. sweginozwii superba is a most elegant species with very fragrant, flesh-pink flowers. Height about 5 ft.

Recommended Varieties — Single Flowers:

Captain Ballet: light carmine-pink.

Clarke’s Giant: an astonishing colour. Soft blue flowers 1 1/2in. across, borne in very large trusses.

Congo: lilac-red.

Etna: claret-purple. Late.

Marechal Foch: carmine-rose, passing to mauve.

Primrose: name describes the colour.

Souvenir de Louis Spath: dark red.

Vestale: white.

Double Flowers:

Ami Schott: cobalt-blue.

Charles Joly: reddish-purple.

Katherine Havermeyer: deep lavender, passing to lilac-pink.

Madame Lemorne: white.

Paul Thirion: rosy red.

President Grevy: lilac-blue.

William Robinson: reddish-mauve.

The hybrid lilacs raised at Ottawa by Miss Preston and known collectively as Syringa Prestoniax bloom about 14 days later than the ordinary varieties, with very large heads of bloom, the flowers more loosely arranged. So far the colours lack the purity of older kinds but these newcomers are still well worth growing as all are really vigorous and extra hardy. Audrey is pinkish-mauve; Elinor pale lilac and Hiawatha pale pink.

Note that at least one species of iilac is suitable for rock gardens. Syringa palibiniana bears fragrant lilac blooms in spring. Lilacs may be increased by layering in spring.

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