They could not be more resplendent, and the timing for the lilac festival this year could not have been better. Lilacs at Gary Parton’s Alpenglow Gardens on Fern Valley Road are on display for the Saturday, April 29, Victorian Tea, Lilac Walk and AAI Artist Exhibition.
Photo by Tom Pierce

Lilacs reach their peaks of bloom and fragrance based on weather conditions. And since weather conditions vary, scheduling annual lilac festivals can be tricky.

But this year, Gary Parton and his Idyllwild Garden Club associates are celebrating. The hundreds of lilac varietals at Parton’s Alpenglow Gardens on Fern Valley Road will be at their peak on Saturday, April 29, for the annual Victorian Lilac Tea, Walk and Artist Exhibition.

Begun in 2009, the annual lilac festival attracts many off-Hill flower tourists, as well as loyal locals. Although the lilacs are the stars of the festival, the gentile Victorian tea is a not-to-be-missed experience. Many who have attended in the past speak glowingly about the perfection of the tea, the food, the servers and especially the experience of tea in Parton’s garden — the soft classical music playing in the background and lilacs in their finest dress.

Just as is done this year, an unnamed lilac varietal will be named, with the announcement being made on Saturday.

Artists from the Art Alliance of Idyllwild will have work available for show and sale, and AAI artists will be creating art during festival hours.

The gardens open at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, April 29, at 25025 Fern Valley Road. Music, art and guided tours continue until 3 p.m. The Victorian tea is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. only. What is important about the docent-guided garden tour is the information docents will provide — the history of varietals in the garden, their origins and other anecdotes that make them special.

Tickets, available at Idyllwild Pharmacy and at the entrance, are $20 for entry, guided tour, art experience and Victorian tea; without the tea, tickets are $5. Shuttle service (to help avoid parking congestion and prolonged walks to the entrance) is available from St. Hugh’s Episcopal Church parking lot at the base of Fern Valley Road on South Circle Drive.