Scented Plants Shrubs

I Never Get Tired of Russian Lilacs

The beginning of summer is off to a good start when the lilacs begin to bloom! What gorgeous flowers! And what a bewitching scent! That said, for several years, we have been able to get our hands on lilac varieties that are less suckering and whose flower quality far surpasses that of the common lilac (Syringa vulgaris). And among these beautiful lilacs, there is one group in particular that tops them all: Russian lilacs.

A tribute panel to Leonid Kolesnikov, in Russian! Photo: Elena on flickr

The Origins of Russian Lilacs

Hybridization of lilacs began in the 1800s, with what are commonly known as French lilacs. Several varieties still cultivated today have their origins in the hybridization work of Charles Lemoine: ‘Belle de Nancy’, ‘Madame Lemoine’, ‘Charles Joly’, etc.

It was in the 1940s to 1960s that Leonid Kolesnikov created around fifty new varieties, each one more interesting than the next. First, it is the quality of the flowers and the fragrances that are the main attractions of these lilacs. Flowers are large and full. But they also have the great advantage of being very hardy (USDA zone 3 to 7) and disease resistant. Unfortunately, there are barely a handful of cultivars easily available in North America. Kolesnikov ‘s contribution was so important to the advancement of lilacs that the great international lilac symposium, held in 2018, was dedicated to the 125th birth anniversary of the hybridizer. There’s even a book (in Russian) entirely dedicated to Kolesnikov ‘s work. Here are three varieties of Russian lilac that are relatively easy to find.

The Beauty of Moscow

‘Beauty of Moscow’ is a literal translation of its original name ‘Krasavitsa Moskvy’. This lilac lends itself well to tree pruning (12 to 18 feet high (4 to 6 meters)). It bears triple flowers of a very light pink that tends towards white. It is a real favorite and one of the most available Russian lilacs on the market.

The ‘Krasavitsa Moskvy’ lilac in full bloom. Too bad this blog is not in Odoravision! Photo: Ohio University

The ‘Znamya Lenina’ Lilac

It means Lenin’s banner. The large clusters of flowers are a beautiful and of a fairly intense purple pink. You can see a fine specimen of this variety in the Museum of Lilacs, located in Saint-Georges, in Beauce, Canada.

The intense purple flowers of the ‘Znamya Lenina’ lilac. Photo: Pixabay

The Lilac of Hope, ‘Nadezda’

It is also called the ‘Hope’ lilac. Here, the flowers are semi-double, and they originate in a dark mauve flower bud that opens into light lilac flowers. The flower clusters are particularly large. Like most Russian lilacs, this one reaches about 4 meters in height.

The ‘Nadezda’ lilac in bloom. Photo: Wallpaper Flared.

See Lilacs, Russian or Not

In Quebec, it is possible to stroll through several lilac collections, such as that of the Museum of Lilacs. June is the perfect month to discover lilac collections. The Montreal Botanical Garden and the Cap-à-l’Aigle Gardens in Charlevoix are also two great places to discover Russian lilacs and other interesting varieties.

In short, if, during a visit to the garden centre, you come across a lilac with an unpronounceable name… buy it without hesitation! It will be a very good purchase. Moreover, it is the same with clematis of Polish origin. But that’s another story!

Julie Boudreau is a horticulturist who trained at the Institut de technologie agroalimentaire in Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec. She’s been working with plants for more than 25 years. She has published many gardening books and hosted various radio and television shows. She now teaches horticulture at the Centre de formation horticole of Laval. A great gardening enthusiast, she’s devoted to promoting gardening, garden design, botany and ecology in every form. Born a fan of organic gardening, she’s curious and cultivates a passion for all that can be eaten. Julie Boudreau is “epicurious” and also fascinated by Latin names.

6 comments on “I Never Get Tired of Russian Lilacs

  1. Hello, great topic you have raised. I also do not know Russian, only English. I have a lot of videos in Russian, I also want to translate with subtitles. In my city there are translation centers from English to different languages of the world, but they can not translate videos with voiceovers. By the way, thank you for the proposed company, I will definitely save and try to contact them.

  2. There are a lot of websites running now a days .There are many type of languages spoken and some people understand it but some people for example the people of pakistan can not understand the russian videos so they have need to translate these videos into english by which they can easily understnad these videos so there are many ways to translate these videos vidby is also used to translate videos and it is very easy tool.

  3. What a wonderful story about fragrant lilacs you have written! Thank you. My maternal grandmother came from Russia, so I know these flowering trees like no one else. In the garden near the house grew many different lilacs, which were very happy in early summer. And then the jasmine bloomed. I even have one movie from my childhood, how we organized a flower festival in Russia. It’s a pity it’s in Russian. I would like to tell my children what my childhood was like. Unfortunately, I don’t know Russian very well, so I want to find a translator and make at least English subtitles for the movie. This is a very valuable memory for me.

    • James David

      What an amazing story you describe. If you are looking best translator then you should visit this here you can easily translated into english language without any difficulties. It gives you step-by-step guide that how to get a translated video from Russian into English. It gives you best quality material that is very helpful for you.

  4. Lynne FitzGerald

    Very interesting article. I am still very angry about losing my beautiful mature healthy Lilacs in their prime because my new neighbour who moved here from Ontario thought they were hers and cut them down to build a fence before she had the results from the land survey. She could have kept the green fence but now I have a huge wooden fence looming over every thing. Anyway there had to be a silver lining so I went on a search for Lilacs to replace what I had lost and ended up with some interesting varieties. Krasavitsa Moskvy, a common Lilac with a Russian name, a dwarf Korean Lilac, Miss Kim and another Lilac called a boomerang Lilac as it blooms twice. Several more that I don’t have descriptive tags for. The Common lilacs started to bloom this week. I’m glad the others are a bit slower as I live in the Maritimes and we REALLY needed rain to help knock down the forest fires! I am really looking forward to seeing my new lilacs in all their glory!

    • It is amazing to imagine Lilacs. I really like this article. It is a great feeling when we share our stories with our children. I would say to Lilian that if you want to translate Russian in English then you should use some translator. There are many available in different sites.

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