Thursday, April 16, 2009

Syringa spp. cvs. xs....It smells good this week at the Arboretum

Lilacs: if they're not you're favorite plant, I bet they're in the top ten!

Curiously this is the same day, April 16, that I posted the Lilac collection at the Arboretum last year. I didn't do it by intent, I just noticed the date when I was cutting and pasting, i.e. plagiarizing, myself. I'm not lazy, I just did such a good job the first time it seems a shame to waste it. Anyway this part is new. Like the cherry fields, the lilac nursery contains both the plants acquired to provide germplasm for the breeding program, as well as some of the plants produced by that program. There are a couple of acres of lilacs across the road from the Capitol Columns parking lot and continuing down the hill. You can't miss them.

While visitors aren't actively encouraged, the area is open and if you don't pick the flowers, and obey all the other rules you are welcome to walk through. Certainly feel free to inhale. (One of the most important rules is no parking on the grass. It may seem counter-intuitive, but park on the road to the side!) This is a collection you ought to see at least once! Most of the old-fashioned cultivars prefer to grow farther north than here; our summer heat, humidity and heavy soils combine to create an inhospitable situation. I feel like I have a good grasp of how most things horticultural work, and I can't explain the existence of these plants; there is no other equivalent collection this far south. (Having spent a year thinking about this problem, I suspect that the "tough love" policy of Susan Greeley, their caretaker, as regards water goes a long way to explaining why these plants are as happy as they are. They expect to be dry in the summer and Sue cooperates.)

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