These deciduous shrubs come into their own during May, covered in evocatively scented terminal panicles. Both of these hybrids have purple flowers and are shades similar, in fact indistinguishable, from each other. They are produced on the previous year’s growth. Once flower colour has faded, cut these out to allow vigour to be put into vegetative growth, not seed pod production. A very therapeutic job with a pair of sharp secateurs that also tidies the plant up.
Syringa x chinensis (laciniata x vulgaris), pictured above: a weak open-growing, multi-stemmed small tree producing light green foliage; 3.5 metres tall by 2.5 metres spread. The buds pop open to reveal four perfect petals and yellow anther tips. It is commonly called the Rouen lilac as it was raised at the botanic garden in this, the capital city of the Normandy Region of France.
Syringa x persica (afghanica x laciniata) is a much more compact plant ideally suited for the smaller garden. Long grown in ancient Persia, the Persian lilac is an old hybrid that deserves to be widely cultivated. Reaches a maximum of two metres in a lax, twiggy habit.