In this month's Product Profile, we're shining the floral spotlight on lilacs. Plentiful in supply at New Covent Garden Flower Market at the moment, they're the perfect blooms to include in an English country garden style floral design.
'Sensation' is the name of this particular variety below, with its bi-coloured purple and white petals. Read on to discover more about this beautiful flower…
From the olive family Oleaceae, the lilac's Latin name is Syringa vulgaris. Syringa is derived from the Greek word 'syrinx' meaning hollow tube or pipe, because the pithy stems can be hollowed out. In fact, the Turks used to use them to make pipes. The second half of the name, vulgaris, means common or easily found.
Lilacs have clusters of small florets on a woody stem. They're available in white, plus varying shades of lilac and purple, in different stem lengths.
Inside the Market, the peak season is generally from February to May. And outside on Foliage Row, you'll find homegrown lilac in bundles usually available towards the end of April/beginning of May.
Here are just some of the varieties available at Nine Elms…
Madame Florent Stepman (Usually referred to as Stepman)
Ruhm von Horstenstein
Lilac & Viburnum Opulus Mix
Several traders sell wraps of lilac and Viburnum opulus. On asking one of them why they were mixed, I was told that it’s very likely that the lilac grower also grows Viburnum opulus. Hence them being put together in wraps.
Lilacs have woody stems. So it's sometimes easier to cut them using secateurs instead of scissors. When conditioning them, it's advisable to use the special sachet of flower food, which comes with them.
Some people recommend that as well as cutting off the ends of the stems, to also split up them to help the flowers take up more water. And in turn, hopefully prevent the flower heads from drooping.
Being available in a variety of different stem lengths, from 40cm to 1m 20cm, makes lilacs versatile blooms. Tall lilac is perfect for large pedestal and urn arrangements, whilst shorter stems are ideal for hand-tieds, bridal bouquets and smaller vase arrangements.
We've focused in this report on Syringa vulgaris, however Shane Connolly used Syringa persica in a design for British Flowers Week in 2013. Simply click here to take a look.
Here are some more examples of beautiful designs featuring lilacs…
(Source: Scarlet & Violet)
(Source: Rebel Rebel)
(Source: Rob Van Helden Floral Design)
(Source: Amanda Austin Flowers)
(Source: Tony Marklew | By Appointment Only Design)
(Source: Nikki Tibbles | Wild at Heart)
(Source: Jane Packer Flowers)
(Source: Carrie Macey | The Topiary Tree)
We'd love to see photos of arrangements that you've made using lilacs from New Covent Garden Flower Market. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, stating your company name and website address. Or if you prefer, you could post your photo on Twitter and copy us in, by including @MarketFlowers in your tweet. We'll then upload your photos into this section.
I hope you've enjoyed reading this month's Product Profile Report. Please do ask away below if you have any questions or would like to make any general comments. As always, we'd love to hear from you…
P.S. Did you know that in Greece and Cyprus, lilac is called Paschalia, meaning Easter, because this is the time of year that they're usually in flower?