LILAC – Syringa Vulgaris

Originating from South-eastern Europe and parts of Asia, Lilacs are old-fashioned garden plants, highly prized for their attractive fragrant flowers. They bloom from spring to early summer, and are ideal plants for cool-climate gardens.

Lilac comes in several colours but most are familiar with the common lilac, Syringa vulgaris. A small deciduous tree of up to 7m high with large oval leaves in opposite pairs and branched clusters of small, highly fragrant flowers each about 10mm long.

Common colour symbolism spans many European, Asian and North American cultures. In Victorian times, giving a lilac meant that that the giver was trying to remind the receiver of a first love. Lilacs can also express confidence that the giver has for the receiver. This makes lilacs a good gift for graduates.

Select stems with tight blossoms that are just starting to loosen or break towards the panicle base. Stems need to be long, straight and sturdy and flowering heads full. Make sure buds are free of blemishes or damage.

Lilacs are not only pretty, but useful in many ways.

• Many species of butterflies and moths rely on lilac plants in order for their caterpillars to survive.

• The common lilac produces nectar favoured by bees and butterflies.

• Lilac flowers are a common ingredient in fine cosmetics and perfumes.

• Aromatherapy oil made with lilac flowers is supposed to be good for relaxation and to sweeten up smelly rooms.