Plants - Trees and Shrubs

Natural beauty: May's evocative lilacs

Stephen Westcott-Gratton
Photography by
Andreas Trauttmansdorff

Prepare for the heady scent and lavish blooms of this spring garden staple


‘Maiden’s Blush’ (S. ×hyacinthaflora ‘Maiden’s Blush’) Frank Skinner, MBE (1882-1967) immigrated to Canada at age 13 and became a cattle rancher in Dropmore, Manitoba, with an interest in breeding prairie-hardy fruit trees and ornamentals (particularly lilies, roses and lilacs). Largely self-taught, he took up work on the hyacinthaflora lilac cultivars where the Lemoines had left off. Crossing S. vulgaris with the early lilac (S. oblata ssp. dilatata) he developed extra hardy (Zone 2) lilacs that bloom seven to 10 days before the common lilac. ‘Maiden’s Blush’ was introduced in 1966; ‘Excell’ (1935) and ‘Mount Baker’ (1961) are two other widely available Skinner introductions.

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