While catalog descriptions and pictures can provide a glimpse as to what a particular lilac may look like in full bloom, there’s nothing like seeing them in person. Fortunately, three of the best collections of lilacs anywhere in the world are within a four to six-hour drive of Syracuse.
First, the 1,200 plant, 500 variety collection of lilacs in Rochester’s Highland Park is, of course, the centerpiece of that city’s annual “Lilac Festival.”
Further west, the Katie Osborne Lilac Collection at the Royal Botanical Garden in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada contains more than 800 different species, hybrids and cultivars of lilacs. The Royal Botanical Garden also serves as the International Registration Authority for new lilac cultivars. And, for a very brief history of the development of cultivated lilacs visit the Royal Botanical Gardens online “Lilac Story: Past and Present.”
Heading east, make sure to enjoy the 442 plant collection of lilacs at the Arnold Arboretum if you’re traveling to Boston between late April and late June.
If reading this section of my website has turned you into a real lilac enthusiast, you may want to join the International Lilac Society?
Or, if you’d just like to read more about lilacs, the most authoritative book on this genus, "Lilacs: the genus Syringa," was written by Father John Fiala and published by Timber Press, Portland, Oregon in 1988 (ISBN 978-0881925302). It’s the source for the descriptions of the lilac cultivars on this site and it's available in the Onondaga County Public Library System.