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Syringa vulgaris - common, or French lilac

The scent of lilac blossom is an inseparable feature of the Finnish summer, just like the slightly later blossoming of the midsummer rose (Rosa pimpinellifolia 'Plena'). The large lilac shrubs are covered in early summer with violet or white, strongly scented, erect flower clusters. The lilac’s smooth pointed, almost heart-shaped leaves are also easily recognizable, as are the tall strong stems. Lilac wood is extremely hard and close-textured.

The species grows naturally in the Balkan Peninsula in moist rich soil among other shrubs. Its journey towards garden popularity began there about 500 years ago. It arrived in Finland in 1728, when the apothecary Synnerberg brought the first seedling from Stockholm to Turku. About 20 years later August Ehrensvärd at the Suomenlinna Fortress obtained seedlings from France; these lilacs still bloom there in Piperin Puisto (Piper Park)

Lilacs spread throughout Finland in the 1700s but became general in parks and gardens only towards the end of the 1800s. The species produces root suckers which are easy to transplant. Once it has settled in its new home it is very tenacious. Although the house may have fallen into ruin or been removed, the lilac shrubs grow on, indicating where once there had been a garden.