Highland Park's lilac collection is famous throughout the world. The following are some facts and trivia about lilacs, and about the collection.
The first lilacs were planted in Highland Park by Calvin C. Laney and John Dunbar in 1892. Three thousand people gathered one Sunday in 1898 to see the lilacs. This number increased to 25,000 on Lilac Sunday a decade later.
The lilac is known as the "queen of shrubs". The name lilac itself comes from Persia, from the word "lilaq" which means flower. Other old names for lilacs: blewe pipe trees, prince's feather, duck's bills, Spanish ash.
The Latin term for lilac is syringa vulgaris. Vulgaris can be translated as "belonging to the masses."
The lilac originated in Bulgaria and spread throughout Eastern Europe and temperate Asia.
Victor Lemoine changed the old fashioned syringa vulgaris to what it is today: he developed the first double lilac.
In 1563, lilacs were brought to France from Constantinople.
We owe our lilacs to the Puritan women who carried rooted pieces (or perhaps even small plants) on their long journey from England. Both George Washington and Thomas Jefferson refer to the lilac in their diaries.
The oldest bush in the park was a double lilac of the President Grevy variety, planted in 1892, but this was replaced and now the oldest is the same variety but it was planted in 1897.
Lilac Sunday idea was proposed by the Park Department in 1909 when the collection, which spread from the original bush brought from France, began to attract attention.
The fine for picking lilacs in Highland Park is $25.
Highland Park Conservancy 180 Reservoir Avenue Rochester, NY 14620
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The Highland Park Conservancy works in partnership with Monroe County, who manages, operates, and maintains Highland Park and the Lamberton Conservatory.
Special thanks to David, John and Mary Gaudioso, whose images are used throughout our site to to celebrate the beauty of Highland Park.