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  • Writer's pictureBlake Nursery

Lilacs To Die For!

Lilacs not only make heads spin with wildly fragrant spring flowers, they’re also the tried and true backbone of many a Montana landscape. You find them in close companionship with age-old homesteads, sometimes surviving on neglect for decades, where they’ve proven winter-hardy and drought tolerant. Lilacs come in many varieties, most of them shrubs while a few are lovely small trees. Some shrubs are tall and suckering and create a fortified get-rid-of-the neighbor hedge.

Others are small, delicate and non-suckering, thus more suited for foundation planting around your home. Regardless of their size, their spring blooms are a welcome sight to butterflies, and birds appreciate dense lilacs for cover and nesting. Below we’ve listed our favorite Lilacs, all of them regularly in stock at Blake Nursery. And be warned, when it comes to Lilacs, one is never enough!

Indeed, at Blake Nursery we're forever singing the praises of lilacs. We brake in our tracks on a regular basis when they're blooming, overwhelmed by their perfume and fabulous array of colors. Of course no longer does one think of lilacs as exclusively lavender.

Instead, they offer rich shades of pink, red, deep purple, white, blue and yellow. We can also enjoy their attractive, often colorful foliage when they're no longer in bloom, and even in winter we delight in the beauty of their bark.

We can thank our lucky stars we live where we can grow magnificent lilacs with the greatest of ease. Our soils may not be ideal for more acid loving plants, but they suit lilacs just fine, thank you! Our cold winters followed by hot summers aren't a problem either - lilacs handle both with aplomb. And as for powdery mildew, a plague devastating lilacs in more humid climates, well we can forget that one too. So for us in the northern Rockies, lilacs are a no-fuss solution to growing gorgeous and extremely hardy shrubs. Nobody should be without them.

Miss Canada Lilac
Miss Canada Lilac

Birds cotton to lilacs as well for their flowers, seeds, and dense foliage that provides excellent cover for nests. We are entertained throughout the growing season with the constant commotion of birds zooming to and from the lilac hedge out our window - a Grand Central Station of ornithology.

Once maligned for their aggressive habit and often the subject of chain saw attacks, we now know better—with lilacs one size does not fit all. Instead there are charming and unobtrusive dwarf varieties such as the spicy scented 'Tinkerbelle', Miss Kim, and Dwarf Korean.

Agincourt Beauty Lilac
Agincourt Beauty Lilac

As mentioned earlier, several lilacs are actually trees instead of shrubs. Japanese Tree Lilac (20-25') is one of our favorite landscape plants, an elegant late-blooming specimen with enormous white blossoms. Dwarf Korean Lilac (5-6') is a small tree with spicy fragrant flowers, a great accent plant! See photo at right.

Of significance also is that lilacs don't all bloom simultaneously. Some bloom weeks later than others, so if you love lilacs as we do, you can have continuous bloom for over a month by planting several varieties - some blooming just as others fade.

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