Alpenglow Lilac Garden hosts International Lilac Society

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Gary Parton recently received an exquisite quilted composition of eight lilac blooms, created and gifted by the Mountain Quilters of Idyllwild. Photo by Holly Parsons

Idyllwild’s premier Alpenglow Lilac Garden will showcase a spectacular array of blooming lilacs for attendees of the International Lilac Society on Saturday, April 21, at its Fern Valley location. The Idyllwild visit will follow the International Lilac Society conference and annual meeting held in Riverside Thursday and Friday, April 19 to 20.

“People will travel to Idyllwild from all over the world — from Russia, France, Canada and other countries with lilac devotees,” said garden owner Gary Parton, of the society’s visit. “They’ll arrive here on Saturday, April 21, first visiting the Idyllwild Library for an introduction to the work the Garden Club has done planting more than 1,200 lilacs throughout the village business core, the work of Reva Ballreich, [his mentor] and the creation of the Alpenglow Garden which hosts 300 plants in 165 colors. They’ll also visit lilac collections at the Idyllwild Inn and St. Hugh’s Episcopal Church. Then arrive at the Alpenglow garden for a tour, lunch buffet and auction of approximately 45 rare and varied lilac plants,” said Parton.

Parton noted that people are flying in specifically to attend the auction on Saturday in order to purchase lilac varietals available only in Idyllwild … including the stunning Idyllwild Lilac.

“It’s quite an honor,” said Parton, of the visit of the International Lilac Society and its acknowledgment of Idyllwild’s place in the history of lilac propagation.

Lilacs are widely regarded as the aristocrat of the garden. The Genius Syringa arrived on this continent in canvas-wrapped root bundles with the pilgrims and arrived in Idyllwild in the hands of Ballreich, their initial local cultivator. Her botanical skills produced a selection of unique hybrid colors and a delicate blue specimen was selected by the Idyllwild Garden Club in 1999 as the official Idyllwild Lilac.

“It’s conceivable,” mused Parton, “that should Idyllwild’s fondness for lilacs extend to residences and more public areas, the entire town could become a spring showcase for two months annually, enchanting residents and drawing tourists to view their colorful blooms and scents of legendary lore.”

Parton’s Alpenglow garden, located at 25025 Fern Valley Road, is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday during the months of April and May, when lilacs should be at their peak and available for purchase. The garden is open by appointment only June through March. Parton can be reached at 951-659-9711 or garyparton@yahoo.com.

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