A Minnesota garden classic pairs perfectly with a new introduction

Japanese maple and lilacBurgundy and purple are great, dramatic companions in the garden. Close to each other on the color wheel, they are kicky, yet calming in their own right.

I love this particular pairing of the relatively new introduction to the northern garden, the Japanese Maple and the time-honored staple of every Minnesota yard, the lilac. Both are enchanting in their own way.

I would encourage every Minnesotan who is able to plant a lilac bush in their yard. We all need access to the bulbous little brushes of color and fragrance. And nothing confirms your faith in the magic of the seasons more. It seems that mere days before the buds erupt there are no traces of what is to come. They love to surprise us.

This particular stand of lilacs was grown from tiny little whips ordered from Gurney’s seed catalog 15 springs ago. They do a kick-ass job of masking the less than desirable view to the north. I will confess, I toyed with removing them and replacing with a tidier row of ‘Blue Arrow’ Juniper soldiers. I am so glad that I opted for the free-forming, colorful and fragrant screen.

The Japanese Maple is an ‘Emperor I’ grown by Monrovia is in it’s fifth summer in my rather protected Minneapolis garden. He (his name is Haiku) has had no winter dieback. He gets two aggressive haircuts a year to maintain his 5 foot tall by 3 foot wide shape.

Late May is the picture perfect time for both. Alas, the lilac blooms are fleeting and Haiku’s color fades with the heat of summer.


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