Lilacs

Discussion in 'Crops & Gardens' started by Ken Anderson, Apr 9, 2016.

  1. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    When I was growing up, we had a lilac hedge separating two of our yards, and I always loved the lilacs. Although I am sure there were several individual lilac plants involved, I always thought of them as being one thing.

    As I remember it, they bloomed for quite a while during the summer, and the smell of lilacs is wonderful. Plus, they were very thick. As a young child, I would tunnel along the bottom of the lilacs. They provided protection for birds that would nest in them and, while dad would sometimes trim them, squaring them off at the top, some years they were allowed to grow higher.

    I planted one lilac shortly after we moved here and added four more later. One of the newer ones didn't green up after a hard winter but the others are still alive and well, but they grow very slowly and mine only bloom for about a week.

    I just bought a couple more that I am going to plant, although my posthole digger is not enough for me to dig a hole where I want them to be, so I am going to have to get out some bigger guns. I have a wrecking bar around here somewhere, I think, or I may have brought it up north. Maybe a pickaxe, but I'd have to buy one of those.

    Our yard consists of coal ash and rocks once you get down beyond a few inches so, when planting something like a tree, I have to dig out a much larger hole than if I were planting it in normal soil, in order to provide room for the roots to expand, and I'm thinking that maybe I'd like to dig out an even larger area than I did with the other lilacs since that might have something to do with their unusually slow growth.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 9, 2016
  2. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    I love lilacs, too, @Ken Anderson , and my mother had a lilac hedge along the front fence. It was beautiful, and I loved the fragrance, and always looked forward to the lilacs blooming each year.
    They actually do not bloom for a long time, at least those in Idaho didn't, not like the crepe myrtles we have here in Alabama, which blossom in many colors and last all summer long.
    Some lilacs, I think mostly the old-fashioned kind, will spread from suckers that start at the base of the plant each year, and you can transplant those to get new lilac shrubs.

    We have an area outside the back door where it used to be all graveled (probably part of the parking area at one time), and under the gravel is hard-packed clay. Digging there is impossible.
    Last year, @Ina I. Wonder gave me several blackberry bushes, and we wanted to plant them along the fence where we can't dig.
    Bobby made a planter container that had no bottom, we filled it with dirt and mulch, and planted the blackberries there.
    They have spread, and are now on both sides of the fence, and doing great. We removed the planter from around the berries, and re-purposed it out at the mailbox, where it is now planted with flowers.

    The lilacs that you want to plant might work with the same plan. It just needs to be a planter that you can remove once the lilacs gets established. Or not.
    You could even just leave it there if you wanted.
    Bobby made ours out of wood, and screwed together, so if it would not just lift off, he could unscrew the corners and disassemble it; but we didn't have to do that.
     
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  3. Lara Moss

    Lara Moss Very Well-Known Member
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    I wonder how well they would do in NC. They are lovely in flower arrangements. I never see them anywhere. I used to get them mixed up with Wisteria but there's no comparison really. Wisteria is everywhere around here and grows like wildfire (it sends suckers out). It's nothing like Lilacs though. It has a pretty scent but is very light.
     
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  4. Ina I. Wonder

    Ina I. Wonder Very Well-Known Member
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    @Ken Anderson , when I run into ground that even a pick axes won't penetrate I will put a weeping hose around the area at a real slow drip. This generally loosens the earth enough that I can dig into it, or I'll wait for a rainy period to loosen the earth.
     
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  5. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    It's not packed dirt though, it's coal ash. Since the paper mill was in Millinocket before the town, the part of the town that I live in is built on coal ash from the mill operations. Some established trees are able to get their roots through it, while others root horizontally. Some of them, including a cherry tree that we had in our back yard, simply fall over once they get too large for their root system to sustain. In order for a tree or even shrub to do well, it is necessary to dig through a couple of feet of coal ash.
     
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  6. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    Since the lilac are only a shrub, and do not have all the deep roots of a tree, I think that if you put it in a planter, and maybe left it there permanently, then the roots would spread horizontally, as you mentioned, and maybe eventually some of them would get down through the coal ash.
    I planted a small lilac here last fall when Lowe's had them on sale.
    It made it fine through the winer, and is budding out with leaves this spring; so I think they might be fine in North Carolina, too, @Lara Moss .
    We seldom see them here either; but I think maybe it is due to the popularity of the crepe myrtles, which (when they are kept as shrub/bushes) are very similar to lilacs. They come in so many colors and bloom for so long, where a lilac just blooms in the spring and then is gone until the next year.
    Of course, nothing can compare with the wonderful fragrance of lilacs in bloom ! !
     
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  7. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    The problem with planters in Maine are that the ground freezes hard in a planter, so that the plant would be unlikely to survive a winter. If I placed the planter beneath the ground, that might work but then I would still need to dig the hole, which is where I am at anyhow. I don't know about people from other countries but when Swedes moved to the United States from Sweden, they brought a sprig of lilac with them to plant in their new home. Pretty much everywhere Swedes moved to would have at least one lilac bush growing in the yard. Or they arranged to have one sent to them, but to have one from their own former yard in Sweden was something special.

    The Swedes who left Sweden loved Sweden, but they were no longer able to earn a living there, especially for farmers or loggers. As it was told to me, they could no longer sell their crops to the person willing to pay the highest price but had to sell as a price that was established by the government, and that didn't cover expenses, or leave them with any hope for the future. The government also told them what they could plant and what they could not plant, so it was like being an employee of the government, but one without a guaranteed salary. Large numbers of Swedes emigrated, largely settling areas in the northern United States that were sparsely populated, creating their own rural towns.
     
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    Last edited: Apr 9, 2016
  8. Ruby Begonia

    Ruby Begonia Very Well-Known Member
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    @Ken Anderson , once you get them in, they should thrive in coal ash! Lilacs love lime or sweet soil, which is why they often do well near cement home foundations. I envy you those lilacs, I'm crazy about them!
     
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  9. Diane Lane

    Diane Lane Very Well-Known Member
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    Y'all are making me long to smell some of the Spring plants/trees around here. I haven't been out much, so haven't been to the park or trails to smell them, although I'm sure they're flowering by now. I noticed yesterday that my jasmine is blooming, though, so that will have to suffice for now. I'll have to see if there's some sort of dwarf lilac or similar plant that I could get. I noticed someone on Facebook was selling clippings of a beautiful plant the other day and wanted to get some, but I did a little research and found out they were poisonous to animals, so that nixed the idea.

    Ken, it's too bad that stories like that aren't widely shared, so the youngsters would understand that although our system of government may not be perfect, it's far superior to the ones our ancestors fled.
     
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  10. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I've planted the two new lilacs, added some compost to all of them, and encircled them with mulch.
     
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  11. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I have several lilacs now, but only one that has ever bloomed. The others are growing very slowly, but I have had only one that did not survive the winter.

    [​IMG]
     
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  12. Babs Hunt

    Babs Hunt Veteran Member
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    That photo really captured their color...the lighting must have been just right when you took that picture. :)
     
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  13. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    The non-flowering plant in the foreground is supposed to be a lilac but it doesn't look one bit like a lilac to me, so I'm wondering if it was mislabeled at the nursery or if it's a variety of lilac that I am not familiar with. The leaves don't look at all like those of a lilac. It's never flowered but it's getting large enough that it might flower next year if it is a lilac.
     
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  14. Babs Hunt

    Babs Hunt Veteran Member
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    Sometimes it's just fun to wait and see what comes around. :)
     
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  15. Ina I. Wonder

    Ina I. Wonder Very Well-Known Member
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    @Ken Anderson , What a lovely vibrant color your lilacs have. I don't think that I seen them down here. Maybe they have a different appearance here in Texas. Are they a cool weather plant? My gardening has always been for vegetables, and only recently have I started growing flowers ans decorative plants. Do you grow the flowering plants for you or the Mrs.?
     
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  16. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I think that lilacs do particularly well in cold-weather areas but there are several varieties of lilacs, and I know I've seen them growing in warm-weather states as well. Lilacs are soothing to me, probably because we had a large hedge made of lilac bushes that extended all along our front yard, separating it from what we called the side yard, despite the fact that they were both on the same side of the house. I have always loved the scent of lilacs, and I'm sure that it has to do with these early memories. Pretty much every Swedish family has a lilac, the original stemming from a sprig of lilac that was brought with them when they came to this country. The lilacs were so thick that, as a very young child, I would have a tunnel that led the length of the hedge, down the middle of it. I'd like to see my other lilacs growing as well, and producing their own flowers. I know that I have a few varieties of lilacs but I'm not sure that that one is even a lilac.
     
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  17. Amie Ar

    Amie Ar Active Member
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    lovelies! I love their colors!
     
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  18. K E Gordon

    K E Gordon Very Well-Known Member
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    I love the beautiful lilac color. That would be a a beautiful bush to plant for sure. I am not sure it would do very well here though. I think most people in this area tend to plant cammelias. which are really beautiful as well. I love the color of lilac's but I am not too crazy about the lilac scent. It just smells too floral to me. I prefer other scents.
     
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  19. Amie Ar

    Amie Ar Active Member
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    The color itself was really so calming. I have not smelt lilacs recently. Not much lilacs in my area. I just smell them on some perfumes but am not fond also about its scent. I like fruity scents more than flowers.
     
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  20. Texas Beth

    Texas Beth Well-Known Member
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    No lilacs in my area either. There are so many flowers I would like to grow that only seem to do well in northern states.
     
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  21. Ken Anderson

    Ken Anderson Veteran Member
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    I love the smell of lilacs. It only blooms for a short time each summer, but I can smell it from eight feet away.
     
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  22. Joe Riley

    Joe Riley Veteran Member
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    "Lynn Riggs wrote a dramatic play named "Green Grow the Lilacs." Its 1931 stage production was a flop, but when renamed and reworked as a musical, it was a huge success, running 5+ years on Broadway. The musical was made into a movie in 1955--"Oklahoma!" starring Gordon MacRae".
     
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  23. Yvonne Smith

    Yvonne Smith Very Well-Known Member
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    The house in Idaho where I grew up had a hedge of lilacs all along the front fence by the roadway. They were the old-fashioned lilac and they slowly spread each year. My mom loved the lilacs, and sometimes she would give away starts to neighbors and friends who also wanted to grow lilacs.
    I also LOVE the scent of lilacs, and to me they will always be intertwined with memories of my mother, and cutting fresh bouquets of lilacs for the front room of our house almost every day when they were in bloom.

    I have a small lilac planted in front of our house. So far, it has not blossomed; but i just got it last fall so it might bloom next spring.
    I am hoping that it does.
    One of my most favorite singers is Harry Belafonte, and one of my favorite songs that he sings is called "Green Grow the Lilacs".
    Some of you may remember this song, too......

     
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  24. Chrissy Cross

    Chrissy Cross Veteran Member
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    I just saw this post, lilacs were my husband's absolute favorite flower, I like them too. One of the more fragrant flowers, except for maybe jasmine. I would always have a vaseful anywhere I lived that we had lilacs.

    I like the white ones too but think the have a stronger scent and are fuller but that could just depend on the particular bush.
     
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  25. Joe Riley

    Joe Riley Veteran Member
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    We had huge lilac bushes that were more like trees, which I cut down and dug out. (Very few blooms, very high up.) But I tried to cut some and put in a vase, when in bloom.
    IMG_4146.JPG
     
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    Last edited: Jun 20, 2016
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