WiseAcre Gardens

north of the adirondacks – wildflowers & perennials that survive winters colder than my wife's feet

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Posted by WiseAcre on May 16th, 2009

Lilacs with a Rant

May 16

Why do I love my Lilacs so. Let me count the ways.

1, 2, 3 those were all free.
I have to love 4 because it cost me 45 bucks when it was only a tiny sprig.

I’m ready to rant but first how about a pleasant little something. The show is about to begin. The Lilac’s flower buds are just beginning to open but they make a good warm up act.

Here’s my white.

White Lilac buds
A common Lilac seen all over the area.

Now the normal lavender lilac that’s all too common but never unappreciated.

Lavender Lilac buds

Get ready – this is my favorite.
A deep dark purple bloomer that is not often seen outside the Town of Canton but I’m working on that. My favorite is easy to share, it produces suckers like no other and it’s blooms are the deepest purple around. It blooms just a bit later than the more common types around but I think you’d agree it’s worth holding your breath for.

Deep purple lilac

This was already planted at our first house when we bought it about 30 years ago. Even then it was a very large shrub (15 feet high and the clump had a diameter of 20 feet or so) – from experience with it I’d guess at that time it must have been at least 15 years old. For a long time I believe I was the only one to have anything like it. But since then I’ve been the Johnnie Lilac Sucker and have planted them in countless other places. I can’t help but to spread this one around.

Purple Lilac

Before I go into my rant – here’s what inspired it.

Yellow? Lilac

I’d give it a little slack and say the buds have a yellow tinge but the white one’s buds are just as yellow. There’s no way can you say the flower is yellow. White is white unless you put on yellow sunglasses or jab a stick of butter in your eyes.

NOT yellow lilac

I don’t have to love the mail order nursery that sold it to me 14 years ago. Yea, that’s right. That long ago and it cost $45 for a twig. It was supposed to be ‘Special’ and a yellow lilac would have been a thing of wonder. The pic in the catalog was yellow, the description went on and on about how special it was and the price made me believe it was yellow. But reality set in with the first blooms that only turned out to be white. Since that first bloom opened I haven’t bought another thing from White Flower Farm. It’s not nice to fool your customers.

I’m sure everyone has had a similar experience. The catalog or plant tag says one color and the plant turns out to be another. The worst are those that say ‘BLUE’ – what they really mean is ‘if you gouge out your eyes with a spoon this shade of purple may look blue’. Same for red being orange, orange being yellow and on and on it goes.

Misleading tags are one thing and I guess to be expected with all the hype that goes into marketing. But what will make you pull your hair out through your nose are the customers at nurseries that just have to pull out a tag and then place it in a different pot or flat. That pretty yellow columbine you though you bought is purple, the red bee balm is white, the white astilbe is pink and on and on we go again. Vegetables are extremely frustrating when you buy a tray of one type of tomato and end up with another or that pumpkin turns into a squash and lets not even get into the peppers. Mix and match takes on a whole new meaning when thoughtless people browse at the garden center. And I’m being kind when I call those morons thoughtless.

13 Responses

  1. cindee Says:

    Beautiful Lilacs(-: I love those plants. They smell so wonderful!
    The dark purple one is my favorite too(-: I had a white one once. It expired.
    LOL I have not tried to pull out my hair through my nose…Thats a good one!!!!(-:
    I have though bought so many plants that say one thing and do another. That can be a real let down especially when you order it! Mail order is a real pita because you get such tiny little plants that take years to grow. I just recently ordered some grasses. I hope I live long enough to see them fill in the area I planted them in(-: Which reminds me I better go make sure they are not dead. Its hot today(-:

    The white one may only be in a state of permanent dormancy.

    I suggest not trying it either, especially if you’re driving because it make your eyes tear up so much.

    I just plain quit buying mail order. I have enough trouble trying to keep some cash left in my pockets when I go to the nursery.

  2. mimmylynn Says:

    I understand your frustration. Too many things are not what they are advertised to be. But lilacs are my very favorite and your pictures are lovely.

    The world would be a better place if advertising was not treated as a a tax deductible expense 🙂

  3. Ratty Says:

    The old bait and switch. I’ve had it happen to me many times. It seems they either don’t need return customers, or they don’t think others will be smart enough to notice. Customers that switch labels are just jerks.

    I like the lilac pictures though. I haven’t seen lilacs up close in a long time.

    I can nrver get out of a bait shop without being full.

    Customers that misplace tags should be potted and left to become root bound.

  4. peppylady Says:

    Your lilac are total beautiful. At this time we don’t have any. We had to remove the ones next to the house.
    Now trying to figure out where we want to put them.

    I believe I like the deep purple the best.

    Coffee is on.

    Everyone picks the deep purple if given the choice.

    Make an island bed in the yard and let it grow. I like the full look as suckers keep sprouting outwards and giving the clump a nice rounded shape. It takes some time but IMO well worth it.

  5. Town Mouse Says:

    Well, I hate it even more when they don’t survive! Happens all the time: you get something stunning (and not cheap), stick it in the ground, dead a week later ;-> I’m usually happy if I get a plant that resembles what I thought I was getting and survives. With natives, it’s often a bit dicey what’s what…

    Town Mouse,
    Best to shop after midnight in a neighbors yard for those stunning plants. As for natives – putting them on a reservation is just asking for problems.

  6. rainfield Says:

    Don’t know why I sneaked a look at “who me” for the first time after all the flowers, and again flowers. keep poping up.

    I don’t know why. But I love all your flowers. Actually we have a song with the title “purple lilac”.

    Sooner or later most people want to know who the wizard behind the curtain is.

    Deep down everyone is a flower child.

  7. RainGardener Says:

    Hi WiseAcre I love the deep purple/rose/fuchsia or whatever colored one too it’s gorgeous! I bought what they said was a purple Hebe one of my very first plants after moving here. It was white – not just white but an ugly plant. It took me about 18 or so years to finally kill that sucker. LOL Guess I could have dug it up and given it away. But it finally kicked the bucket last summer! 😉

    I got a purple hebe for free once – I wore a turtleneck till it went away.

    My yellow lilac is still pretty in it’s own white way so it stays and reminds me every year at this time I was a sucker.

  8. Monica the Garden Faerie Says:

    I agree white isn’t yellow and free is better than $45. But sticks of butter should be shoved in one’s mouth (Mmmmm, ala Homer) not in one’s eye! That’s just wasteful. 😉

    Now we’re talking. – Mmmm. Floor Pie.

  9. Heather Says:

    Ahh, the Primrose lilac. We sell it, with the usual, “the description says yellow blooms, but it’s really a white lilac…”

    I’ve given up looking for true blue flowers. It’s purple. Always.

    You have beautiful lilacs. Maiden Blush is my favorite for the smell, but I love the Sensation lilac for it’s pink and white blooms. However, it looks to me like this particular lilac can go back to being white, so don’t fall in love…

    I like all Lilacs except for yellow now.

    There are a few True Blue flowers. Too few unless you look in catalogs 🙁

  10. Sande Says:

    That’s a lovely rant – you done good. But sounds like lots of us agree. Me, too. I have a new (to me) nursery crossed off my list this year because the plants were so puny, and 3 of them won’t even be shipped til fall. It didn’t say that in the online catalog! So we live, and if we’re lucky we learn!

    I try not to rant – but sometimes …

  11. Maggie Says:

    Do you know the variety name of that dark lilac? I would love to get my hands on a couple of those. Gorgeous, and we have none at our new place. Spring without lilacs seems wrong.

    Unfortunately I have no clue of the name. All I know is that it is old – at least 45 years old by my estimate.

  12. Helen Says:

    I have an old-fashioned light purple lilac blooming in the garden now. Same vintage as my house, I’m sure. Love it, whatever it is called. Really don’t have room/sun enough for another lilac, but if I lived closer to you… and in the same country… I’d probably be knocking at your door for one of your deep purple suckers (not the kind that involves $45)!

    Too bad about the room/sun and the border crossing. I have a sucker ready to go. A 5 hour one way drive is a bit extreme but real gardeners do crazy stuff 🙂

  13. jodi (bloomingwriter) Says:

    Oh, I’m with you on mailorder catalogues and hyperbole! That ‘yellow’ one looks suspiciously like ‘Primrose.’ I saw one several years ago in the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario, and it did have a bit more of a pale buttery colour in the flowers (as opposed to just the buds). But it was certainly nothing some mailorder catalogues showed it to be. That’s the other thing; either some of these businesses opt for the cheapest of printing companies and so their colours are way off in the photos, or else there’s a bit of a heavy hand with Photoshop. Blue is certainly one of the exasperations–there’s one catalogue that prints this photo of a ‘blue’ stokesia that is almost Himalayan poppy blue in the photo, but it’s (of course) a lavender, and not a very good one at that.
    In some cases I suppose it’s just that the catalogue is using whatever photo the plant propagating company provides them with, because you see the same photos show up in many catalogues. But it bugs me anyway. Of course I haven’t had coffee yet this morning and we’re in a provincial election, so I’m cranky anyway.

    Guess you know why I go right to the source and buy ‘in bloom’ 🙂

    Groan – time to pick a moron. I hate to say it but anyone who runs for office shouldn’t be allowed near the reigns of power. Not always – but damn near close. They’re worst than any catalog.