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Lilacs: A Gardener's Encyclopedia

By John L. Fiala and Freek Vrugtman

One test of a good book is that it inspires, and this one has certainly persuaded me to plant more lilacs.

BBC Gardens

First published in 1988 by award-winning American hybridizer Reverend John Fiala, this unique reference quickly became known worldwide as the lilac lovers' bible. The latest revision combines Fiala's passion for lilacs with the expertise of Canadian plantsman Freek Vrugtman, the international lilac registrar.

The new book provides up-to-date information on the 21 known lilac species and 10 natural hybrids, as well as hundreds of the 2000 named cultivars. Five hundred color photos have been added, including some which show the newest introductions from Russia and Poland. The text addresses practical concerns of selecting, growing, propagating, and using lilacs in the landscape, alone or with companion plants. It also provides fascinating details of the history, origin, and discovery of the species and of the people behind the development of the cultivars. A new chapter on lilacs in art and crafts and an updated list of places where lilacs can be viewed and celebrated complete this rich resource.

Packed with 580 gorgeous color photographs, most of them previously unpublished, Lilacs: A Gardener's Encyclopedia tells the story of a classic spring-flowering shrub cherished for its reliable masses of colorful flowers and sweet fragrance.

Media reviews

"One test of a good book is that it inspires, and this one has certainly persuaded me to plant more lilacs."

—Martyn Rix, BBC Gardens

"A thorough treatment of the Lilac genus and a must-have for anyone interested in these plants."

—Robert Haehle, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

"Specialist [this book] may be, but it's good to know [it's] there as a source to be consulted, say, on breeding or propagation, as well as the different species themselves."

—Stephen Anderton, Times (London)

"Do not let the encyclopedic nature of the book intimidate you — this is no dry read ... For the cultivar descriptions, the accompanying photos, the updated taxonomic treatment, and the history and tales, this is a book that belongs on every lilac lover's bookshelf."

—Stan C. Hokanson, American Gardener

"Fiala will forever be linked to American lilacs, and his book is an essential legacy for anyone who loves these shrubs."

—Maureen Gilmer, Evansville Courier and Press

"Vrugtman has succeeded in beautifully updating an essential volume. There are important changes in classifications listed in the new version, and it is a must-have. ... The pictures themselves are so gorgeous they conjure up the exquisite aroma."

—Renee E. D'Aoust, Idaho Farm Bureau Quarterly

About the authors

John L. Fiala

Reverend John L. Fiala (1924–1990) was a parish priest, high school principal, college professor of psychology and education, and, in his spare time, leading plant breeder. At Falconskeape, his 120-acre garden in northwestern Ohio, he pursued two great loves, lilacs and crabapples. He wrote reference works on both plant groups and established separate international societies to unite likeminded enthusiasts. Ever searching to improve lilacs, Fiala introduced 78 new cultivars in the 1980s. Many of these are still highly sought after, while others are little known. Among his best-known lilac legacies are 'Lark Song', 'Wedgwood Blue', and 'Yankee Doodle'. In 1980 Fiala was awarded the Thomas Roland Medal by the Massachusetts Horticultural Society for his hybridizing achievements.

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Freek Vrugtman

Freek Vrugtman (pronounced frake fruchtman) is the International Lilac Registrar, a position he has held since 1976. He writes regularly for the International Lilac Society's journal. Among the awards he has received are the American Association of Botanical Gardens and Arboreta Award of Merit in 1993, International Lilac Society Honors and Achievement Award in 2000, and the International Society for Horticultural Science Medal in 2002. He holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in horticulture from the University of British Columbia and Cornell University respectively.

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