Lilac Collection


In April and May, the heady perfume of blooming lilacs fills the air and lures visitors to the Louisa Clark Spencer Lilac Collection, just northeast of the Cranford Rose Garden. The collection features 150 specimens of these much-loved shrubs, including over 20 of the known lilac species and subspecies, and 130 cultivars. Their fragrant flowers range in seven colors: white, violet, bluish, lilac, pinkish, magenta, and purple as well as bi-color “sensations”, and they come in single and double forms.

When Dr. C. Stuart Gager, BBG's first director, noted in the annual report for 1917 that World War I was "disrupting the Garden's acquisition of choice varieties," the collection already included more than 100 varieties of common lilac (Syringa vulgaris). Clearly, the wartime interruption was only temporary as the collection continued to grow. In 1981 and 1982 the collection underwent a major reorganization to highlight the plant’s contrasting color and species varieties. Today, the collection is called The Louisa Clark Spencer Lilac Collection in honor of the chairman of the board of the garden from 1977–1982.

Barry Rogers

Barry Rogers

 

Barry Rogers is the curator of BBG’s Visitor Center, Overlook, and Lilac Collection. Barry came to BBG as an intern in the early 1990s and later returned as an instructor in Children’s Education for several years before joining the Horticulture team. Working with kids in hands-on workshops strengthened his interest in the practical uses of plants: “I love the beauty of plants, but I’m also really fascinated by how they can be used for medicine and food.”


Early lilacs, such as Syringa x hyacinthiflora 'Annabel', begin blooming in late April. Soon after, around the first week in May and peaking on Mother's Day, come the flowers of the common lilac, S. vulgaris. By Memorial Day, late-blooming lilacs such as S. reflexa, S. villosa, and S. x prestoniae are at their peak. The last to bloom, in the second week in June, are the spicy-scented tree lilacs S. reticulata and S. pekinensis, both with single white flowers and attractive cherrylike bark.

Lilac Collection 1916
Lilac triangle. just planted. ©1916 Louis Buhle. All rights reserved. For reproduction permission, contact library@bbg.org. To see more historic images of BBG, visit bbg.org/discover/historicimages/
next slide previous slide
    • The Louisa Clark Spencer Lilac Collection.The Louisa Clark Spencer Lilac Collection.
    • The Louisa Clark Spencer Lilac Collection.The Louisa Clark Spencer Lilac Collection.
    • The Louisa Clark Spencer Lilac Collection.The Louisa Clark Spencer Lilac Collection.
    • The Louisa Clark Spencer Lilac Collection.The Louisa Clark Spencer Lilac Collection.
    • Louisa Clark Spencer Lilac Collection. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.Louisa Clark Spencer Lilac Collection. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.
    next slide previous slide
      • Syringa chinensisSyringa chinensis
      • Syringa vulgaris 'Lucie Baltet'Syringa vulgaris 'Lucie Baltet'
      • Syringa velgaris 'Kapitan Teligata'Syringa velgaris 'Kapitan Teligata'
      • Syringa vulgaris 'Naudin'Syringa vulgaris 'Naudin'
      • Syringa vulgaris 'Dr. W. Bugala'Syringa vulgaris 'Dr. W. Bugala'
      • Syringa vulgaris 'Andre Csizik'Syringa vulgaris 'Andre Csizik'
      • Syringa vulgaris 'General Sherman'Syringa vulgaris 'General Sherman'
      • Syringa vulgaris 'Romance'Syringa vulgaris 'Romance'
      • Syringa hyacinthiflora 'Ester Staley' is the first of BBG's lilac collection to bloom. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.Syringa hyacinthiflora 'Ester Staley' is the first of BBG's lilac collection to bloom. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.
      • Syringa vulgaris 'Firmament' blooms big in the Louisa Clark Spencer Lilac Collection at BBG. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.Syringa vulgaris 'Firmament' blooms big in the Louisa Clark Spencer Lilac Collection at BBG. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.
      • Syringa vulgaris 'Sensation', a beautiful bi-color lilac blooms today along with 150 other specimens in the Louisa Clark Spencer Lilac Collection at BBG. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.Syringa vulgaris 'Sensation', a beautiful bi-color lilac blooms today along with 150 other specimens in the Louisa Clark Spencer Lilac Collection at BBG. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.
      • Syringa vulgaris 'Romance' and 'President Lincoln' make a stunning color combination matched only by their incredible scents! Photo by Rebecca Bullene.Syringa vulgaris 'Romance' and 'President Lincoln' make a stunning color combination matched only by their incredible scents! Photo by Rebecca Bullene.
      • Some of the lilacs have put out their first blossoms including this Syringa x hyacinthflora 'Lamartine'. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.Some of the lilacs have put out their first blossoms including this Syringa x hyacinthflora 'Lamartine'. Photo by Rebecca Bullene.
      WeddingsGarden News BlogCalendarOnline ShopPress Room

      Hours

      Tuesday–Friday:
      8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
      Saturday & Sunday:
      10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
      Closed on Labor Day

      Members’ Summer Evenings: Wednesdays, 6–8:30 p.m.

      More Information

      Admission

      Members Free
      Adults $10
      Seniors (65 and over) $5
      Students with a valid ID $5
      Children under 12 Free

      More Information

      Directions

      150 Eastern Parkway
      990 Washington Avenue
      Brooklyn, NY 11225

      subways

      Maps, Parking, and Directions

      Join BBG

      Become a Member

        

      BBG Member Benefits
      Free Admission, Special Events,
      Discounts, and More!