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Reblooming lilacs: The hype and the reality

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Courtesy of Betty Earl

(Read caption) The heavenly scented blossoms of ‘Josee’ delight in spring, but later blooms depend on cool summer weather.

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Treasured for their gorgeous, lush blooms and incredibly intoxicating fragrance, lilacs are a longtime garden favorite, dating back to the mid-1700s when both Thomas Jefferson and George Washington grew them in their gardens.

A sentimental spring garden favorite of mine, the modestly named common lilac (Syringa vulgaris) has been the one bush I couldn’t imagine not growing. Treasured for their big, flamboyant, oh-so-fragrant panicles of trumpet-shaped blossoms, lilacs are fairly carefree plants, often living for decades in the landscapes.

Some of my tried-and-true favorites, plants that enchanted generations of gardeners before me, include ‘Charles Joly’, a very prolific, very fragrant wine-red double flowered beauty; Sensation’, dark red-purple blossoms edged in white; and ‘Beauty of Moscow’ (Syringa vulgaris ‘Krasavitsa Moskvy’), a stunning beauty with double white flowers.

A newcomer to my garden, primarily because yellow-colored blossoms are an oddity in the lilac family, is the only yellow-flowered lilac (actually more like a very pale almost creamy yellow), ‘Primrose’.

Finding a lilac blooming in fall

I admit that I fancy the oddities of the plant world. So I can’t help but notice when reading current gardening magazines, the numerous ads for the “new reblooming ‘Josee’ lilac”. A reblooming lilac! But as one of my garden club friends put it …“Is there such a thing as a reblooming lilac?”

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