The charm of Lilacs

a view of our garden in May

The wonderful thing about moving into a home which doesn’t have a garden plan, is being able to create one yourself!  When we moved here, our home had some lovely lavender plants in one section near the house, but otherwise it was all grass.  It has been an eight year “work in progress” project, and it honestly still is a “work in progress”, but I’ve been able to add so many of my favorite things, including lots of lilac!

Syringa v. Beauty of Moscow sitting in a very small Irish Pottery milk jug

For all of the years I have lived in and visited Ireland, May traditionally has the most wonderful weather with warm temperatures and sunny blue skies.  This year was no exception, and the weather was a perfect backdrop for the lilac shrubs we planted a few years ago.  I love the scent of lilacs! Unlike lavender, where you need to brush against the plant to enjoy the scent in the garden, Lilacs are fragrant all of the time after their flowers bloom.

Syringa vulgaris ‘Andenken an Ludwig Spaeth’ has a deep wine color

Syringa vulgaris Ludwig Spaeth early in May in evening sunlight

I have five varieties of lilacs. Our first lilac was a pink variety called Beauty of Moscow.  The buds are a light pink and then when it blooms the flowers are white.

the flower buds of the Syringa vulgaris ‘Beauty of Moscow’ are light pink and when they bloom the flowers are white

The lilacs have taken a few years to settle in. The only extra care I give them is adding my compost to the soil around them.  This year the shrubs are the most floriferous.  It has been worth the wait!

Syringa v. ‘Sensation’, ‘Andenken an Ludwig Spaeth’ and ‘Charles Joly’

I’m not sure if I can pick one as my favorite, but I *really* like the variety ‘Sensation’.  It is the smallest of the tree-like shrubs, growing at a slower pace, but none the less, it also looked very well this year.

Syringa vulgaris ‘Sensation’

If you are looking for a small, extremely slow growing lilac shrub with huge bang for your buck in the fragrance category, then I would suggest Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’, pictured below.  This little shrub was planted 6 years ago! Although small, the fragrance is mighty!

Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’

The flowers are quite delicate.

close-up of Syringa meyeri ‘Palibin’

My least photographed lilac is the Syringa v. ‘Charles Joly’. It just seems a tiny bit messy to me!

Syringa vulgaris ‘Charles Joly’

I have so enjoyed watching as these shrubs come into flower and bloom, and of course I’ve enjoyed their wonderful scent.

Watching (and smelling) these shrubs has been such a lovely way to transition from spring into summer!

I hope your weather has been as agreeable!

In peace,

Cormac’s Garden: The creating and naming of a flower bed

in the beginning...

in the beginning…

I love gardening.  What a surprise, huh?  I really look forward to the different seasons and watching as everything changes.  Every year it is all new again, even though of course it is not new at all.  It is even more fun when adding new plants to beds and seeing how they grow, change, and add to the atmosphere of the garden!

further along in spring...

further along in spring…

It is fun to make new flower beds.  Hmmm, I think I have to re-phrase that.  It is fun to plant new plants and shrubs in a new flower bed!  The making of a new bed is actually a good bit of work!  I don’t use chemicals, so the first step involves covering the grass with newspapers, then covering with cardboard and then stones on top to hold down the cardboard.

Raspberry Ice Fusion Hyacinth

Raspberry Ice Fusion Hyacinth adding some color to the bed

I don’t have a picture from the very start of this bed, but I’m sure you probably have a “lovely” picture in your head of what that would look like.  A few months later, after the grass is dead, I (read: me and/or anyone I can get to help with this job) have to fork up the grass and turn it over.  After the soil is left to dry, the dead grassy bits are easy enough to shake free of soil and add to the compost heap.  Then the soil is forked over again to make sure there isn’t any stubborn grass!

spring time

spring time

Have you gathered the gist? It is a lot of work.  But I think it is worth the work to avoid using chemicals. This bed has been named “Cormac’s Garden” because my son Cormac spent quite a lot of time forking over the soil.

further on in spring

The lilacs’ flowers and leaves are adding a bit of life to the bed, and a new hellebore (‘SP Frilly Isabelle’) was planted.

The hyacinth were added this past fall.  I really liked the two different shades of pink which were offset with white.

three colors to start off spring

bright colors for the start of spring (Raspberry Ice Fusion hyacinth)

a deeper color pink (my favorite)

a deeper color pink (my favorite)

My son is 17 and jokes that all of the beds should be called ‘Cormac’s garden’ as he is often roped into helping out.  Let’s just stick with this one for now…


columbine blooming in May

The bed has: hosta, bearded iris, hellebore, Dutch Iris, columbine, lilac

The bed has: hosta, bearded iris, hellebore, Siberian Iris, columbine, lilac

I added one more lilac shrub this year, to the 3 already there.  Yeah, I went a bit lilac crazy, but I love their scent!

Syringa vulgaris 'Andenken an Ludwig Spath'

Syringa vulgaris ‘Andenken an Ludwig Spath’ (my favorite!)


Iris & Lilac

Iris & ‘Charles Joly’ Lilac

I planted some Siberian Iris last year.  They apparently are quite happy in this soil because they look spectacular this year (says she quite humbly!).

Dutch iris

Siberian iris

I have those same iris in another part of the garden and they don’t look half as nice as these here.  Amazing how different the soil composition can be even in the same yard.

a single allium

a single allium of three which were planted…

It has been fun watching the bed fill out.  I liked how it started with shades of pink, and is now filled with different shades of purple.  I’ll have to think about what colors to add for the fall.  Oh, and I am at it again!  I decided that the bed isn’t wide enough!

hosta filling out

Hosta at the front, and a look at what it looks like while I kill the grass to widen the bed.

here we go again!

here we go again!

Having something new to look forward to in the following season is the best part of gardening!  Don’t you think?

Here’s to new beginnings!

In peace,