Common Purple Lilac Syringa vulgaris May 25, 2018

Lilac bush Syringa vulgaris on Parkdale Lane May 25, 2018 3-4 m height and width. What is now called Parkdale Lane, The Henry’s paved lane way, was once lined with towering lilac and caragana bushes. It was common for Calgarians to drive by and cut off bouquets from the generous bushes. The blooms are short-lived and soon turn brown on the edges. Now the bush in our garden is the last reminder of the lane way bushes. The house was built in 1938 and the bushes many have been planted at any time after that.

Plant Watch Alberta on Common purple lilac,

Syringa vulgaris – Common purple lilac was one of the plants most commonly brought to Canada by homesick settlers. Bushes still can be seen thriving near abandoned pioneer homesteads.”
“The common purple lilac is one of two non-native or introduced plants in the Plantwatch program (the other is dandelion). Lilac was selected because it is well known to act as a biological weather instrument. It has been used for over a century in Europe to study plant phenology. Studies similar to Plantwatch began in the United States in the 1950s, in which the public reported bloom times for lilac and honeysuckle to the Agriculture department. From these studies, information is available on how much accumulated heat (growing degree summation) is needed for flowering.”

“Growing in ideal conditions, the common purple lilac can reach a height of 4 m (13 ft.), and have a spread of 7 m (23 ft.). This species of lilac produces suckers – new shoots that sprout from the base of the shrub, or from the roots. Without regular pruning, yearly growth of suckers will make the shrub very dense.”

“The Calgary Horticultural Society’s Liesbeth Leatherbarrow recommends using common purple lilac as a natural calendar for your vegetable garden.

“The leafing out of the lilac is a signal to sow cool-season vegetables such as lettuce, peas and spinach. When the lilacs bloom, it’s time to fertilize the lawn and plant warm-season crops such as bush or runner beans and corn. Conventional wisdom has it that lilacs do not bloom until the risk of frost has passed, therefore it should also be safe at this time to plant out tomatoes, peppers and tender annuals. When the lilac flowers fade it should be warm enough to plant out squash and cucumbers, which are best started indoors in the short Calgary growing season.”

Leatherbarrow, Liesbeth. Reynolds, Lesley. The Calgary Gardener. Volume 2. Beyond the Basics. The Calgary Horticultural Society.


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