Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Close-up of Old-Fashioned Lilac
If you grew up lovin' lilacs like I did, you never quite get over it. My folks moved onto the farm I grew up on in 1940, but they were lucky because sometime around 1910, lilacs had been planted near the house and the hearty plants flourished.

To get the right image though, you have to envision a yard that had never seen the blade of a lawn mower. The grass was knee high on an adult and tall enough for kids to play hide and seek in the twilight hours of the evening. In certain areas where the dandelions were thick, our flock of geese kept the grass down, but they left too many pods behind, making those areas undesirable places to play.

The one civilized area in the yard was the area around the lilac bushes. Mom was proud of this area and proclaimed it as a model for civilization. She expressed her desire to expand the lilacs. So after a a hard day's work and evening chores, Dad and I, led by Mom, found ourselves transplanting the succors from the large bush to make a hedge on three sides of the yard, which measured over 200 feet. Although this took many late evening's of work, that was the easy part. Pumping water by hand and carrying water in pails to keep the plants alive for the next two years was a greater challenge. When I asked Mom why she wanted a lilac hedge, she replied, " Some day when we get a lawn mower, we will know where to quit mowing–at the lilac hedge."
How can anyone argue with that?

It was worth every effort. In a few years we were rewarded with tall bushes that blossomed every spring and provided a border for our lawn. Later, after we sold the geese, we had many grand times on Memorial Day weekend, Labor Day weekend, and the Fourth of July celebrating with our relatives and friends on our lilac-bordered lawn.

Before the construction machinery dozed the farmstead, Nancy and I dug out several of Mom's lilacs and planted them at our place, which is a five-acre piece of the farm I grew up on. Needless to say, the hearty plants flourished, and they treat us to beautiful blossoms every spring, rich foliage that provides shelter for birds during the summer, and a thick bush of branches that provides food and shelter to birds in the winter.
A couple of the many chunks of old-fashioned lilacs we transplanted from Mom's hedge.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

To see pictures of five other kinds of lilacs click below on Read More.






The Deep Purple (also called Red) and the Double Blue were no longer blooming so we spared you photos of the brown blossoms. We planted these different colors in a row, expecting they would grow into a thick hedge as the old-fashioned lilac does. However, as you can see in the photos below, the different colors do not have the same growth rate and the hedge is uneven. If you decide to plant many colors of lilacs, I suggest you keep the bushes separate because some tend to push put others.
Hedge of various colored lilacs.

My favorite is still the old-fashioned. It makes a consistent, tight hedge to let you know where to stop mowing.


  1. AnonymousJune 01, 2011

    thank you! so many happy memories of lilacs linked with my minnesota heritage and with my grandma, a minnesota farm girl... her yard in mpls was bordered on two sides by lilacs, the old fashioned ones pictured here. i can almost smell them. thank you so much for sharing this. from, Kathy in Alabama

  2. Thanks for the feedback, Kathy. Lilacs seem to bring back memories for lots of people and their connections with their folks, their grandparents, and the farm. I'm glad you shared yours.