Examiner | Magazine

The Arnold Arboretum’s love affair with lilacs returns

Lilac Sunday on May 14 is the only day this grand park allows picnics, too.

Associated Press

Editor’s note: Arnold Arboretum has canceled this year’s Lilac Sunday due to severe weather threats. Modified events will be offered Saturday.

> 6 — Weeks that lilacs stay in bloom at the Arnold Arboretum, usually beginning in early May

> 281 — Acres in the Arboretum; lilacs take up about 0.6

> 1908 — Year the Arboretum held its first Lilac Day

> 49 — Maximum height in feet of a Japanese tree lilac (the oldest one at the Arboretum is 29.5 feet tall)

> 15,000 — Approximate number of plants the Arboretum cultivates

> 369 — Number of lilac plants in the Arboretum’s space, with 110 of them being the common lilac (Syringa vulgaris)


> 165 — Types of lilacs in the Arboretum’s collection

> 1872 — Year the Arnold Arboretum was founded, as the first public arboretum in North America

> 1876 — Year the Arboretum added a Japanese tree lilac, the first lilac plant acquired by the Arboretum (lilacs were already on the grounds given to Harvard by Benjamin Bussey)

> 43,000 — Number of people said to have attended Lilac Sunday in 1941, considered its peak year

> 1750 — Year the oldest living lilacs in North America are said to have been planted, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire

> 20 — Number of food trucks expected at this year’s Lilac Sunday, the only day of the year picnicking is allowed at the Arboretum


“May is lilac here in New England.” — Poet Amy Lowell, “Lilacs”

Sources: Arnold Arboretum; The Poetry Foundation

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