The Lilac Festival in Rochester, New York, is set for May 10 through 19, 2013, in Highland Park.
This year’s opening day celebration will be like no other. If you’re in Upstate New York on Friday, wear your purple and head for the center stage. The idea is to set the record for the biggest crowd of people wearing purple ever assembled.
A world class arboretum (or “tree garden”), Monroe County’s Highland Park is included in the Mount Hope Preservation District and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Established in 1887, the park was the dream of George Ellwanger and Patrick Barry, two Rochester citizens and nurserymen. Owners of the Mount Hope Nursery, they endowed the community with 20 acres of their nursery’s land and enlisted the help of noted landscape engineer Frederick Law Olmsted to develop the park.
The relationship with Olmsted lasted into the 20th Century and, now in the 21st Century, Highland Park has grown to comprise 150 acres of rolling hills filled with botanical delights, magnificent gardens and the largest collection of Lilacs in the United States — more than 500 varieties on 1200 plants.
Lilacs are known for their fragrance. When Evangeline comes into bloom, you can smell it all the way down the street. The double whites could be Madame Lemoine or Miss Ellen Willmott, two of the most popular and fragrant of the Lemoine hybrids. Pocahontas has a nice rounded shape and a dark purple flower. Fenelon, a fragrant pink, is another favorite, and the earliest to bloom in Rochester.
From the multi-petaled Rochester Lilac, to the early blooming single white Frederick Law Olmsted, and the Dwight D. Eisenhower, which has huge clusters of sky-blue flowers, there’s no shortage of rare discoveries to be found among the Lilac Collection.
Photo Credit: 2013 Lilac Festival Poster