This Beltane ‘season’ has definitely been an action-packed one for me, so when the actual day fell, I decided to do something more low-key. I simply piled up in my car and drove down to Woodland, Washington to take in the sights at the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens.
Lilacs are among my very favorite flowers, and one of the highlights of my year are the few weeks in which they bloom. Every time I pass a lilac bush, I can’t help but bury my face in its flowers and inhale as if I will never breathe again. Nothing is better in the world than the scent of lilacs. Naturally, I was practically drunk within minutes of entering the Klager gardens. And I was falling in love with a new lilac every time I turned around! I think my favorite was ‘Sensation’, which was a dark purple flower that was outlined in white. The dark purple Frank Klager was a close second, but I also loved Laciniata, Pink Elizabeth, and Korean.
The Klager gardens themselves are stupendous. Honestly, I’ve rarely seen such impressive grounds dedicated to showcasing a single type of plant. I actually went around the entire thing four times…and if I hadn’t been very hungry, I probably would have gone around another four. Unfortunately none of my wide-scale photos do the place any real justice.
There’s rather a sweet backstory to the gardens. Mrs. Klager moved to America from Germany in 1865 when she was just two years old, and the family eventually settled in Woodland when she was 13. She first learned about hybridizing plants in 1903 as she was recovering from an illness and soon thereafter hybridized a quite successful apple. In 1905 she turned her attention to her favorite flower, lilacs, and went a bit crazy. By 1910 she’d created 14 new varieties and had created so many more by 1920 she began holding an annual open house in the spring when her babies were at their best. In 1948, her work was completely destroyed in a huge flood of the Columbia, but even at 83 she was ready to start over. People from all over the country who had received some of her plants sent her back clippings of her hybridizations and–miracle of miracles–she was able to reopen her garden by 1950.
After seeing Hulda’s amazing gardens, I can tell you right now that if I’m ever lucky enough to get some decent-sized property for myself, I’m going to have a blast planting lilac hedges. It was such a magical effect!
Since Woodland is so close to Portland, Oregon, I stopped by my friend Johnathan’s for dinner. It’s been ages since we’d seen each other, so we had a great time catching up. I honestly can’t imagine a better way to spend a holiday than with friends and beauty.