Campus & Community

In Lilac Time

2 min read
Harvard and Radcliffe grads James Dennison ’34 and Elizabeth Lewis ’34 pause during a stroll through the aromatic profusion of more than 200 varieties of lilacs. Photo by Justin Ide

Mother Nature got her act together just in time for Mother’s Day.

Bright sunshine greeted thousands of visitors at the annual Lilac Sunday on May 14 at the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain. The colorful flowers seemed to dance in the light as they swayed to a warm, gentle breeze – 70 degrees to be exact, perfect conditions for plants and visitors alike.

Many visitors took advantage of the occasion to throw down blankets on the lawn and enjoy lunch on the only day of the year picnics are allowed on the grounds. Others simply strolled the hilly gardens, transfixed by the bright flowers and rich aromas.

Diane Mahoney, who works at the Hebrew Rehabiliation Center, spends part of her lunch hour feeding her soul. Photo by Justin Ide

The Arboretum, which was founded in 1872 and named for its benefactor James Arnold (and now held in trust by Harvard University) has successfully cultivated lilacs for 128 years. More than 200 different varieties of lilacs are grown at the Arboretum, representing one of the largest collections in the United States. Every spring, a daylong celebration is held, drawing garden enthusiasts from around the world. It is traditionally – and not surprisingly – the busiest day of the year at the Arboretum.