Lilacs smell like spring.

Springtime in Boston always comes late for me. As a North Carolinian, I think flowers should start blooming in March. This business of waiting until May throws me off every year. Once the last of the grey piles of snow have melted from nearby parking lots, we finally get to see New England at its best. One of my favorite flowering trees are the lilacs.

Our tiny front yard needed a lilac, so we looked around for the best place to buy one. That's when we found King's Tree Farm and Nursery. They have over 40 varieties of lilacs! What's a budding gardener to do? Time for a field trip.


Kings tree farm and nursery The entry to King's Tree Farm and Nursery

The one way, dirt road leading into their farm is lined with all types of trees. A lake on the right acts as a natural boundary, and soon enough you're parking to walk around these trees. We had an idea of what type of lilac we wanted to come back with: darker purple in color, with a nice scent. Eventually we settled on the Monge variety.


Monge Lilac Monge Lilac from King's tree

The Monge variety is dark purple, with a single bloom. That means there's one set of petals around the bud. Some other varieties have a double bloom. Those look much more fluffy. Many of the lilacs had a noticeable scent. The strength of the smell depends on where in the bloom cycle the plant is. When they still only have buds, the scent is missing. It also fades a little as the flowers pass their peak and start to wilt. At that point, it's a good idea to 'deadhead' the plant, cutting off the older blooms.

The Beauty of Moscow tempted us sorely. This one has a double bloom and a very bright smell. The buds start out pink, but as they bloom they turn white. The effect is quite pretty, and makes for a good contrast next to some other plain white lilacs. I see one of the Beauty's of Moscow appearing in our backyard in the future. You can see just how the buds and the blossoms differ here.


Beauty of Moscow lilac Beauty of Moscow lilac from Kings Tree with pink buds and white blossoms

The smell of lilacs typifies spring to me. That's one of the main reasons we decided to get one for the front yard. We want to be able to smell it when we open our windows for the first time after winter. While other bushes flower first, like forsythia, they don't appease all the senses in the same fashion. Too many flowers are bred selectively for looks and color, and I think they're missing out.


Cathy smelling a Sensation lilac variety Cathy smelling a Sensaton lilac variety

If you decide you want one for yourself, I'd recommend paying King's Tree a visit. We rented a zipcar for a few hours, and had plenty of time. It's about 40 minutes north of Boston. Their website has a nice hand drawn map, but you can also get there reliably by following your GPS.

While there, say hi to Django, their friendly dog. He'll follow you around some of the time, but doesn't offer very good advice on which plants to pick. Eive and Dick know their business inside and out, and have built an impressive setup. A large greenhouse in the back is used to start many of the plants. Lilacs are only a part of what they offer. Other plants include hostas and Japanese maple's. We also bought a deep red azalea.


azalea bushes Django guards our azalea

When you go, remember to bring bug spray. The insects were biting that morning. And watch out for turtles while you're driving.


Watch for turtles Watch out for turtles in the road
Topics: Travelogue