When it comes to choosing either new plants to fill a space or replace a lost specimen, or as part of an entirely new garden design, there is a wealth of choice out there. It pays to remember that the most beautiful gardens have a wide range of planting through many layers from the neck achingly tall to the toe brushingly small with much in-between. A balanced garden will be full of tiny flowers and shapely showy blooms, year-round greenery, and will range from the simple and pleasing to the complex and architectural. If you have the space then good-sized flowering shrubs are an absolute must, and ‘Lavender Lady’ is most certainly one of those!
Lilacs come in many shapes and forms but until the mid-1980s you could only bear witness to them on your own property if you were subject to cold winters. You could have planted one of course, but no one particularly likes brown, shriveled plants in their gardens, so lilacs were always admired from a distance by those who enjoyed warmer winters. This all changed thanks to the skills of one highly skilled hybridizer called Walter Lammerts, in South California. The very first example of these low-chill plants was ‘Lavender Lady’; now there are many varieties that display the same tendencies, but this is the original. It is a fair sized shrub that needs room to grow and this is something you will not regret giving to it. Reaching heights of twelve feet at maturity and around five feet wide, the familiar violet colored flower heads appear in mid spring as multitudes of rounded lances consisting of tiny pale purple blooms. The familiar honey scent is present, though slightly reduced from the very heady aromas of the traditional plants, making it perfect for those who prefer a more delicate and unintrusive perfume. This said, perception of aroma is highly personal and you might find it equally as aromatic as the more familiar varieties. Let’s be honest; who doesn’t like the memory-invoking smell of lilac, so it’s presence in any form is always most welcome.
Although the foliage is not as dramatic as some large shrubs they still have an interest of their own; with their curvaceous bases rounding down to a point, and a nice slightly yellow green and matt appearance, they provide a lovely background to the spectacular flower display. This is quite a leggy bush in form which allows lovely movement in a breeze, but in all likelihood the reason you are looking at this plant is because of the flowers themselves, and well you might! Sometime in the middle of spring these gorgeous, butterfly-attracting bursts of color will appear and will continue to bring vibrancy, aroma and winged friends to your property until the end of summer.
When choosing a position for your new addition it is important to take into consideration the wants, needs and desires of ‘Lavender Lady’ as this will ensure the best possible display of flowers. Given the height and spread it is important to make sure that it will have room around it to reach its full potential, without smothering any of your other plants in the process. Full sun is certainly the most desirable state, although it will tolerate some shade, but the ideal amount of sun is at least six hours a day. A position that allows good air movement is recommended as this can help protect against powdery mildew, so try to avoid overcrowding.
Soil requirements are not particularly restrictive with clay, loam and sand all perfectly tolerable so long as the soil is neither too acidic nor too alkaline and has good drainage. On-going care should not trouble you too much either, with regular watering required when first planted and whilst it establishes itself then sporadic watering from then on, ensuring you do not make the soil soggy. Shaping ought to be done no later than June as this will result in the removal of next year’s flower buds, and rather than a harsh prune when the flowers are spent it is better to remove the heads as they expire. It is worth noting that the best way to shape your ‘Lavender Lady’ bush is to pinch back new growth and shoots where they are not desired.
There is much to love about the low-chill varieties of lilac, and top of that list is being able to accommodate them in areas where the original plants just would not survive as they need those cold winters to induce dormancy in the shrub with the warmth bringing them back again. Now even more people can appreciate the aroma they add and the wildlife they bring, and that can only be a good thing.