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Gardening in the Rainy Zone.
Syringa vulgaris 'Edith Cavell'
Pronounced: si-RING-ah vul-GAH-ris
Sunset zones: A1-A3; 1-11, 14. Blooms sporadically in zones 12-16, 18-22 when winters are too mild.
USDA zones: 4-8.
Heat zones: 8-1.
Height: 12 feet (3.6 m).
Width: 8 feet (2.5 m).
Late spring to early summer.
Fragrant, six to nine-inch long panicles of cream hued buds opening to white, double flowers with a wonderful sweet scent.
Large, green, heart-shaped to ovate leaves.
Deciduous, upright shrub or small tree.
Fertile, humus rich soil on the neutral to alkaline side. With our acidic soils, it is important to place lime around the base of these shrubs and grow them in full sun. Otherwise, flowers may be elusive on your lilac bush.
Side dress with compost in fall, and add lime to neutralize our acidic NW soils.
Greenwood cuttings in summer.
Layer in summer.
Lilacs can take a lot of pruning. Take dead wood out first; then remove oldest and tallest canes. This will keep your shrub shorter. Prune after flowers fade. If you remove suckers, you will only get more suckers.
Pests and Diseases:
Bacterial or lilac blight, powdery mildew, lilac leaf miner or lilac borer may be a problem. In high pollution areas, this cultivar is susceptible to leaf-roll necrosis.
Rainy Side Notes
This cultivar was bred in France and introduced in 1916 by the Lemoine family. In the mid 20th century, Alvan Grant used 'Edith Cavell' in breeding programs and by 1971 developed the single white blooming lilac, 'Rochester'. This lilac went on to become famous as a parent to many syringas still popular in the 21st century.
John L. Fiala, author of the book Lilacs, The Genus Syringa, considers Edith Cavell to be one of the best white flowering lilacs, as well as the best Lemoine introduction. I find the white flowers with a sweet fragrance make an exquisite bouquet for the home. When the shrub begins to bloom, I must bury my nose in its heavenly inflorescence.
Photographed in author's garden.