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All of these varieties of common lilac do best in a sunny spot in the garden with a fertile, moisture-retentive but free-draining soil. You can grow them as a specimen shrub or small tree in a lawn, or as an informal, pollinator-friendly hedge, at the back of a mixed border or even trained against a high wall where their handsome foliage will act as the perfect foil for other flowering plants. Very mature, leggy, poor-flowering specimens can also be gradually rejuvenated over a period of years by using a pruning saw or strong secateurs to cut a third of the older branches right down to ground level in March, as well as any damaged, dead or crossing branches.
Established lilacs also appreciate an annual organic mulch in early spring While these older varieties of common lilac are prized worldwide for their large flowers, intense perfume and vigorous growth habit as well as their usefulness as a cut-flower, a new generation of lilacs has been bred for their slow-growing, compact habit, making them more suitable for smaller gardens. All are suitable for growing in a large pot or tub use a John Innes soil-based compost rather than a peat-based type but must be given a sunny spot and kept regularly watered as well as given an organic mulch in spring to keep them happy.
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Deadheading very soon after flowering is also important. So bring a few branches into the house so that you can drink in their heady perfume indoors. To condition them properly so they last well in a vase rather than wilting, follow the advice of another lilac lover and expert breeder, the late Fr John Fiala , the American priest whose book Lilacs: The Genus Syringa is considered a horticultural classic.
Fiala recommends cutting the woody stems late in the evening and stripping away the lower foliage.
Then use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to pare away the bottom 5cm Alternatively, crush the bottom 5cm With softer, non-woody stems, simply sear the base in boiling water for seconds before placing in warm water overnight. In milder parts of the country, it should now be safe to start planting out summer bedding, but bear in mind that this has been an unusually cold May so keep an eye on the long-term weather forecast and have some garden fleece or even some old newspaper to the ready in case of a hard late frost.
Placed gently over vulnerable plants in the evening and removed the following morning, it will protect them if temperatures do plunge. In colder parts of the country, hold off planting until the end of the month. Bedding plants are widely available to buy in garden centres, supermarkets and hardware stores at this time of year but some have been very poorly cared for while on display and are already badly under stress or damaged from lack of water or exposure to unsuitably cold conditions.
Only buy plants that look healthy, happy and well-watered, with plump green leaves, as these will establish much more quickly and give far better results.
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Take the time to hoe young weed seedlings appearing in beds and on paths before they establish themselves and form more stubborn root systems. Choose a bright, sunny day to do this to ensure the weed seedlings will die quickly on damp, cool days many will survive and re-establish.
Flame weeders are also much more effective when used on young weed seedlings at this time of year but always take care to keep the naked flame well away from flammable materials such as wooden edgings to beds or plastic weed-suppressant membranes. Examples include beetroot, radish, spinach, carrots, peas, turnip, runner beans, lettuce, parsnips, chard, courgettes, squash, Florence fennel, dill, basil, coriander, rocket, cosmos, nasturtiums, calendula, sunflowers and Californian poppies.
Recommended Irish seed suppliers include Brown Envelope Seeds brownenvelopeseeds. All good Irish garden centres also carry an extensive range at this time of year. Today, Saturday May 18th Tomorrow, Sunday, May 19th, Patthana Gardens, Kiltegan, Co Wicklow, garden open day with plant sales plus a talk at 2pm by owner TJ Maher on planting summer containers, tel: for details.
Take5: A former mill on the Garonne river, farmhouse in Umbria, and more. The miracle of lilac: long-living, sweet-smelling and very easy to grow Grow them as a shrub or small tree in a lawn, an informal hedge, or even trained against a high wall where their foliage will act as a foil for flowering plants Sat, May 18, , Fionnuala Fallon. For centuries, lilac has been prized as a cut-flower.
Photograph: Richard Johnston. New to Market.
Blue Lilac Ln, Charlotte, NC | Zillow
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