Syringa (lilac) plants
Syringa, or lilac plants, are deciduous shrubs or small trees producing highly fragrant, upright panicles of lilac-pink or white spring flowers. The flowering season is short, usually around three weeks, but the fragrance and size of the blooms compensate for it, particularly as Lilac flowers usually herald the beginning of the warmer weather! Lilacs are available in a variety of sizes from dwarfs reaching little more than a metre high to large-growing shrubs or trees in excess of 5 metres best reserved for larger gardens. As one of the classical mainstays of the British shrub border, they are sun-loving plants requiring at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day, best grown singly in the border or (for dwarf varieties) against a south or south-west facing wall. The types you see brightening up gardens in May and June are nearly always varieties of Syringa vulgaris, the Common Lilac. Pronounced sih-RIN-gah, they have broadly-ovate, dark green leaves and work well as a covering shrub for planting on banks and slopes or as a wind shelter. Feed and mulch annually and prune to create an open framework, removing both suckers and dead blooms and shortening any whippy, long stems. Be cautious with pruning as Lilac produce their best flowers on two-year old wood.