This southeastern European shrub has been in cultivation since the mid sixteenth century, and in North America since the 1700s. Jefferson first planted lilacs at his childhood home, Shadwell, in 1767 and, later, at Monticello in 1771. An ancient clump of purple lilacs, believed to exist from Jefferson's time, stands on the northern slope of Monticello. Many horticultural forms were developed in France during the mid-nineteenth century. Its large, extremely fragrant clusters of flowers bloom in mid to late spring with colors range from deep lavender to pink and white. Today it is estimated that over four-hundred clones exist in cultivation. The following are early French hybrids still available: double red 'Charles Joly' (1896); double white 'Edith Cavell' (1916) and 'Ellen Willmott'; double lilac 'Michael Buchner' (1885); double pink 'Katherine Havemeyer' (1922); singe reddish-purple 'Monge' (1913); double blue 'President Grevy' and single lavender-blue 'President Lincoln' (1916).
Typical Blooming Dates: April - May
Growth Type: Woody Shrub
Color(s): Lavender, pink, white
Hardiness Zones: 3 - 8
Location at Monticello: East Lawn and North Slope
Planting Conditions: Full Sun