(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on May 16, 2008.)
Lilacia Park was born as a bequest from village resident Colonel William R. Plum. On a visit to France, the colonel admired the French hybrid lilacs in the Lemoine Gardens in Nancy and began to import them to plant at his home, eventually collecting 150 varieties; his collection was at one time believed to be the largest in the world. Upon his death in 1927, he bequeathed his estate to the Village of Lombard, including his lilac collection as part of a public park. Originally, Lilacia Park was 2.5 acres, but it has since been expanded to 8.5 acres where 1,100 lilac trees are now growing, surrounded by thousands of late-season tulips and other plantings.
Every year in May, the village holds its famous Lilac Festival, when thousands of visitors come to the park. Lombard also encourages the planting of lilacs in public and private locations througout the village and gives advice on the culture of these shrubs. The climax of the festival is the annual Lilac Parade complete with floats, marching units and a Lilac Queen. Happily, no electioneering whatever is permitted in the parade. This year's parade steps off at 1:30, Sunday, May 18.
I visited the Park the week before the parade when most of the lilacs and the tulips were in full bloom, although some had already flowered and a few were still in bud. The fragrance was delightful. The lilacs are of all colors: white, pink and blue as well as many shades of purple.
The most popular variety is President Lincoln. A handsome specimen of this fine blue lilac stands at one entrance, and there are several more of this cultivar growing throughout the park.
The lilacs here are largely older cultivars, not new introductions. Lilacia Park might be regarded as a heritage garden. Most but not all varieties of lilacs and other flowers are clearly labeled. The majority are Syringia vulgaris; most others are Syringia x hyacinthiflora. All varieties shown here are S vulgaris unless otherwise specified.
Assession [S x h]
Unnamed Krasavista Moskvy
Annabelle [S x h]
Unnamed Unnamed Excel [S x h]
Forrest Kresser Smith [S x h]
Belle de Nancy
Miss Ellen Willmott
Lilacia Park is located at 150 S Park Avenue in Lombard, Illinois