Three blooms for Mother’s Day at May Dreams Gardens…
Yesterday at the garden center, I overheard someone tell the cashier that they were out of common lilac. My first thought was “Good, because there are better lilacs to plant in your garden.”
Yes, there’s a place for the common lilac, Syringa vulgaris, in large gardens, perhaps as part of a mixed border to help hide its primary issue, powdery mildew. It really doesn’t matter what you do, common lilac shrubs will get powdery mildew. And by the way, around here they start to bloom around mid-April, when it is still too cold for some people to spend time out in the garden sniffing the fragrant blooms. If you insist on planting a common lilac, at least get a named variety
I prefer, and recommend to others, to plant the ‘Miss Kim’ lilac, Syringa patula, ‘Miss Kim’ instead. It doesn’t get quite as large as the common lilac, doesn’t get powdery mildew and also blooms a little later, around Mother’s Day, with a strong, sweet scent.
And for those who want the lilac fragrance in a smaller shrub, I suggest the Meyer Lilac, Syringa meyeri. It blooms in my garden after the common lilac, overlapping with the blooms of the ‘Miss Kim’ lilac.
My lilacs, both ‘Miss Kim’ and the Meyer Lilac, are in full bloom right now. Early tomorrow morning, I’ll cut a few blooms, some that are not quite open, for a nice bouquet for my Mom. If you cut some blooms of lilac of your own to enjoy indoors, be sure to crush the ends of the stems to help ensure they can take up water.
Snowball Bush Viburnum
Would you like a large shrub in your garden that blooms around Mother’s Day, at least here in Zone 5? Then plant a Snowball Bush Viburnum, Viburnum opulus ‘Sterile’. I planted one in my garden for old time’s sake because my maternal grandmother had one in her garden and I remembered those big balls of white blooms in the spring.
Later, I found out that my other grandmother also had one in her garden, but I never visited there in the spring so I never saw it in bloom. My aunt told me that they used to wear flowers when they went to church on Mother’s Day; a red flower, like a rose, if your mother was still alive, and a white flower, if your mother had died. She said my great-grandfather, who’s mother had died, always wore a big Snowball Bush bloom on his lapel on Mother’s Day.
I find these blooms are best enjoyed on the shrubs. Once picked, they seem to quickly droop and shatter.
There’s not much to this shrub after it has bloomed. It doesn’t produce any seeds for the birds to eat, but does provide great shelter for them throughout the year. And in my garden, it helps to hide the compost tumbler in the garden. (Not that I think the tumbler needs to be hidden or anything like that. I love my tumbler, but it just sort of worked out that it sits behind the shrub so it isn’t a focal point in the garden.)
Lily of the Valley
Lily of the Valley is generally sold as “pips”, and seems to be quite expensive for just a few pips, considering that this is a great passalong plant. I usually dig them out early in the spring, or whenever I can get to them, and then replant them where I want them or give them away. They do prefer shadier, moist locations, and once established, some people think they are almost invasive.
But really, how could such a lovely fragrant bloom ever become a thug in the garden?
When I was a kid, we would go to my grandmother’s house in Indianapolis and pick Lily of the Valley, perhaps on Mother’s Day. She had a very large patch of it, on the north side of her house.
I noticed the other day that my Mom had a little vase of Lily of the Valley in her room that my little seven year old nephew had picked for her. I’m happy to see the tradition continues of picking Lily of the Valley for our mothers and grandmothers around Mother’s Day.
What blooms in your garden for Mother’s Day?