TRYOUT: 'Beauty of Moscow' lilacs

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I am not a lilac enthusiast. My mother, however, loved them, so I've always had a few.
'Beauty of Moscow' in spring bloom.
Click photo for larger image.

Mom was definitely on my mind when I came across a straggly 'Beauty of Moscow' (also known as 'Krasavitsa Moskvy') while wandering through an area big-box store last season. It was on sale and I decided to take a chance and buy it.

If it survived, I figured I could include some of the flowers in the bouquet I always picked for Mom in May, along with purple flowers from the old Syringa vulgaris bush that was well established in my yard.

Once in the soil, the small plant revived, and with a little water and care it quickly started to grow and thrive.

I lost my mom suddenly this year on the day after Easter, so she never got any of the blossoms in her annual bouquet, but 'Beauty of Moscow' outdid itself this spring. It will forever have a place in my garden in honor of my beloved mother.

If you have room for only one lilac in your plot, make it this one. The scent is beyond amazing, almost intoxicating. That little bush filled the entire garden with perfume. It was far beyond anything given off by the common lilac, which is easily five times the size. When this plant reaches maturity, it will fill the neighborhood with scent.

The flower panicles are double and very large. They bud pink, then turn white. As the flowers mature, the scent becomes even more pronounced. My small but vigorous plant was filled with blooms even though it barely comes up to my chin.

This French variety was hybridized in 1943 by Russian Leonid Kolesnikov as a tribute to the city of Moscow, according to the Iowa State University Extension Service. It blooms in early to mid-May and has a long blooming period. It is considered one of the top 20 lilacs today, with good reason.

It is hardy to zone 3 and does best in full sun in well-drained, neutral to somewhat alkaline soils. It's a fast-growing plant and can reach 8 to 12 feet tall and 6 to 7 feet wide in 10 years. Prune in the spring after flowering.

"Beauty of Moscow" is available locally at area nurseries, including Reilly's Summer Seat Farm and Garden Center in Ohio Township.

TRYOUT is a collection of mini-reviews and news about plants and products for the home. To submit ideas, e-mail Home & Garden editor Kevin Kirkland at or call 412-263-1978.


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