Tuesday, January 10, 2012


While one can admire the dedication of the French hybridizers in the development and selection of superior cultivars of lilac, there is a homely side to the old timers of yesteryear and more so their progenitors. (Syringia vulgaris) may be seen in their varietal splendor in The Royal Botanical Garden in Hamilton Ontario as the pianist and I observed when we visited some years ago. They say, "The largest lilac collection in the world." Spouting off! Not a very Canadian thing to say, for a self effacing nation. Despite Lotus Island being Rhododendron country, lilacs have a place everywhere, as they are ubiquitous in nature. Every barn and abandoned house on the more sheltered prairies and the interiors had an old timer, surviving after a fashion without demanding a great deal of care. Maybe not as varied and fancy as the new cultivars, but a survivor to be admired and a touch of class, colour and fragrance in an environment of sometime drabness. I have two lilacs that are grafted specimens and horror of horrors,I have allowed a limited growth of the suckers alongside the cultivars! Though I treasure the cultivar, the progenitor is the creation of Mother Nature rather than the French hybridizer, and it reminds us where both we and the cultivar came from and what we have become, for better or for worse. It's like grandpa up in a spare bedroom in the mansion, getting by on his gruel! The progenitor has small florets on spare heads, but it is history and if contained by removing most of the suckers as I did today, it provides some interest to those of us who are probably quirky and know down deep that "beauty" is still," in the eye of the beholder"! If you don't remove most of the suckers they will overcome your cultivar because the progenitor is as vigorous as is Mother Nature. There is no harm in recognizing and prizing our origins,thick or thin and tough as nails!

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