When it comes to seeking out those special plants for your garden that will provide drama, color and unrivalled aroma, there is no shortage of choice. Unfortunately shrubs that can fit all of these requirements can be difficult to maintain, requiring special pruning and feed, and often suffering various diseases and peculiar little bugs that want nothing more than to decimate your wonderful planting. Bridal memories lilac is a delightful example of a plant that will bring bright bold blooms, memory invoking aroma and a multitude of beautiful and delicate butterflies to your garden but requires very little of you and suffers few diseases and pests. It is one of those rare occasions when the Latin plant name completely belies just how pretty the specimen is, so do not let it fool you as there is nothing remotely vulgar about it; in fact vulgaris merely means common and there are simply no syringes in sight, just a wealth of highly attractive flowers.
Lilacs are a familiar plant to most people and have been popular ever since their introduction in the mid 1750s from Europe and Asia – so popular in fact that Rochester, N.Y is considered the lilac capital of the world and in 2006 the lilac became the state bush of New York. The lilac is actually a flowering member of the olive family that is native to the Balkan Peninsula, but has now become naturalized all over Europe. From spring to fall they bear thick green foliage but really come to life in late spring, when the fragrant white flowers begin to appear and often last until late summer. The delicate single flowers face outwards with their four petals drawn back; these are clustered into plump spikes that point upwards. As if this was not enough, in fall the leaves turn from rich green to a deep burgundy often shot through with bronzed tones adding depth and interest to your landscape.
This is a hardy plant and will tolerate a wide range of soils including sand, loam and clay, with pH levels acceptable whether acidic, neutral or slightly alkaline. When planting out it will pay to allow the plant as much exposure to full sun as is possible; the best crops of flowers will occur with a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight a day, and the strongest displays fall on every alternate year. Well drained soil is important and if your chosen site suffers from occasional waterlogging then it is best to create a small mound in which to place the root ball. It is good practice to soak the new plant in warm water for around twenty minutes, in order to soften and relax the roots and soil before placing in your freshly dug hole. If your soil is not particularly rich then compost or bone meal can be added to the hole before the lilac is introduced. If the soil is of high acidity (lilacs prefer a pH range of 5 to 7) then lime should be sprinkled over the roots and reapplied to the soil every 3 – 5 years or according to the manufacturer’s instructions. An appropriate fertilizer should be added when first planted and each spring thereafter – though this is not an absolute and most bridal memories will flourish without it, it is recommended. A good gardening tip, however, is to scatter the ashes from your fireplace (if you are lucky enough to have one) at the base as this encourages a strong showing of blooms.
Flowers are best cut when fully mature but trimming them throughout the flowering season allows for airflow through the plant and encourages the growth of new stems. As the flowers die you can remove the heads in order to prevent seed growth; this will focus the plant’s energies into maintaining its lushness. Of course, leaving these seeds on will attract birds also so there ought to be consideration to their part in nourishing our winged friends.
Lilacs need to be watered regularly in the spring and summer months and the soil should not be allowed to completely dry out for any length of time.
All in all, the white flowers of the bridal memories lilac will bring a great deal of pleasure to you and anyone nearby that will luxuriate in their remarkable perfume whilst giving you a bold deep green shrub that enriches your landscape. All of this is easy to achieve and requires very little fuss indeed, provided you keep them well watered, you will have an annual display to appreciate for many years to come.