Peking Lilac

First of all, last week was pretty awesome. The weather in Maine has been pretty good and then on Wednesday, we had our spring board meeting for CMBG in Chicago. It was in the mid-80’s when we landed in Chicago and tons of people were out running and biking along Lake Shore Drive. On Thursday and Friday, the temperatures plummeted into the 50’s but that did not stop our enthusiasm for touring the Chicago Botanic Garden and the Morton Arboretum. This was my first trip to Chicago, let alone either garden, which I had been wanting to see for years.

Both gardens are huge so our tours were quick and only covered part of each garden. I enjoyed seeing the different designs and plants that are used in Chicago. One plant in particular that caught my attention was Syringa pekinensis or the Peking lilac.

Syringa pekinensis China Snow'

The tree was just outside of the walled garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden. This individual was the cultivar ‘Morton’ which is trademarked as China Snow. The tree was just starting to leaf out and had yet to flower but what was striking was the beautiful exfoliating bark. The bark reminded me a bit of a paperbark maple. The tree is supposed to flower in June with creamy, white flowers. It is hardy to USDA zone 4 or 5 and can only take the heat of zone 7. Any zones warmer than this will cause the tree to languish. Syringa pekinensis matures at 25-30′ in height and 25′ in width.

China Snow lilac

China Snow lilac is a selection from the collections at the Morton Arboretum as a part of the Chicagoland Grows program. I cannot wait to add one to the gardens at Coastal Maine.

Morton close up




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rodney eason

Rodney Eason - Director of Horticulture and Plant Curator at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, father of 4, husband to a Renaissance woman. I spent the first part of my life in North Carolina, the middle in Pennsylvania, and now I am determined to become a Mainer  while keeping my southern drawl. I consider the rhetorical question, "you're not from around here, are you?" a compliment. I love great gardens, beautiful plants, and inspiring architecture. Because of this, I am on a lifelong quest to find a garden that artistically combines beautiful plants while being centered around an evocative building. For me, this would be Beatrix Farrand's Dumbarton Oaks, with the plants of Lotusland and Chanticleer, around Fay Jones' Thorncrown Chapel. My wife and I are now making our new home and garden in a 130 year old New England house with a farmer's porch near the Damariscotta River in coastal Maine. When our kids get into college, we want to hike the Appalachian Trail as a family over a summer break. My likes (in random order): the smell of fresh basil and rosemary, bold foliage, India Pale Ale, good running shoes, Top Gear, the smell of New England in the fall (it reminds me a bit of English Leather, which my grandfather wore), and the sound of our family laughing together around the dinner table. I dream of one day owning an old Toyota 4X4 pick-up and seeing the Avett Brothers in concert.
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1 Comment

  1. Aaron on May 7, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Peking Lilac looked like no other tree I ever saw, it looked magnificent almost like a human created beautiful sculpture.

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