spending time in nature

AlpenGlow Lilac Garden

Green Style Catalog

Lilacs appeared early in history and had value beyond their appearance and fragrance:


    •    Reed pipes and flutes were made in Turkey, Britain, and Europe by hollowing out the stems. 

          They were called Pipe Trees in the Middle Ages.

    •    Lilacs were a treatment for stomach aches and paralysis.

    •    The Chinese made tea from the small leaf lilac.

    •    The florets are edible and can be used in salads, on desserts, and as a garnish.


Pioneers and colonists introduced the lilac Syringa vulgarus to America in about 1650. The species originated in Asia and Eastern Europe. Lilacs were a personal living memory of the settlers’ homelands, and were highly prized. The gardens of Thomas Jefferson in 1767 and George Washington in 1785 contained lilac displays, making them part of America from the beginning.

Victor Lemoine was the first great hybridizer of lilacs. Working in his garden from 1871 to 1950 in Nancy, France, Lemoine and his family created over 200 breakthrough lilacs. His new colors and forms laid the foundation for today’s 1500-plus varieties. Lemoine expanded the common lilac, to what we know today as French Hybrids or French Lilacs.

Lilacs prefer colder climates, and so it is no surprise that Canada, Russia, and the United States would produce the next wave of hybridizers. The lilac continues to reinvent itself, making it a true “aristocrat of the garden.”

For more information about lilacs, visit the International Lilac Society’s website: www.internationallilacsociety.org



Lilacs are survivors and easy to grow, tolerating coastal, mountain, and warm climates. For best results, plant in full sun, or in hot summer climates, locate in half-day morning sun. Plant in well-drained soil, spacing plants at least 6 feet apart. Create a hole half again as deep and wide as the plant and fill with water. Allow the water to disappear. Place the lilac in the hole. Using a general planting mix, backfill around the plant, making sure there are no air pockets. Just after planting, water two times a week. After a month, one time per week, and then as needed.

When the coral light of dawn washes over Lily Rock, the granite sentinel that towers over the mountain village of Idyllwild, California, and the lilacs are in bloom, clouds of Syringa vulgarus in every shade of lavender, blue, white, and pink, wafting their intoxicating perfume on the morning breeze – at this very moment you can experience heaven on earth at Alpenglow Lilac Gardens.

Alpenglow is a garden oasis planted solely with lilacs – over 155 cultivars (varieties) are on display during the months of April and May – located in the alpine arts community of Idyllwild. The gardens are open to the public in April, May, and June, Wednesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Come stroll through the extensive grounds and talk lilacs with our expert growers. There is no admission charge. Please call ahead before you drive up the Hill to make sure we aren’t closed for a special event.

We sell over 50 varieties of lilacs in 5-gallon containers. Sorry, mail order is not available at the present time. You can also reserve the gardens for special events – weddings, receptions, tea parties, anniversary parties – by special arrangement. We can host up to 70 guests on the garden patio. An Educational Lilac Tour, with coffee and tea served on the patio surrounded by the lilacs, is the perfect outing for garden clubs.

We look forward to seeing you when the lilacs are putting on their spectacular show!

Gary Parton, Owner

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