GBBD in Niagara Falls

Robber Fly

This is the first time that the Japanese Lilac trees and carpet roses bloomed so nicely together. Usually the Cotoneaster is the planting partner for the Lilac Trees. The odd weather patterns this year are responsible for the off-kilter bloom cycles.

What you might find interesting, is that the Tiger Swallowtail butterflies really like Japanese Lilac Trees. The blooms of this tree are fragrant and are beneficial as a food source for hummingbirds too. Why are they planted here? Well, they tolerate clay soils, and this side of the home is heavy clay. They also provide shade from hot, southwestern, afternoon sun to all the perennials in the rest of the garden. They work as a wind break too since they are closely planted.

Japanese Lilac trees, Syringa reticulata, are small flowering trees hardy to zone 3 to 7. The variety here is ‘Ivory Silk’ which grows very slowly and reaches about 15 to 20 feet in our area. They are wonderful city street trees, but… your tidbit of the day…

Japanese Lilac trees take a fairly long time to recover from damage.  Japanese Lilac trees may not bloom for a few years if they suffer damage or stress, as they are focusing their energy on repairing the damage instead of making new buds. The wood of Japanese Lilac trees is softer than on some other trees, and can be damaged quite easily. So be careful when mowing or engaging in outdoor play activities.

Way up there, had to go get the 300mm lens.

In this image you can see that one tree is much larger than the other with more numerous blooms. The smaller of the two suffered from a traumatic experience when just planted.  See Who Took the Dang Tree to see what the poor thing went through and read more on page 16.

Bees really like Sage.

And Penstemon.

On the tree top, the Swallowtail was feeding, but so were the bees.

Trollius is such a pretty plant, it made the cover this month. And who do we have here?

Seriously, my little yard!!!!! The asters are not blooming yet, ha ha. I had a macro lens on the camera and I was as close as this appears. My friend the bunny was not leaving either. Once I knelt down though, he took off running. Bet he thought he was headed for the stew pot.

The hosta are getting where they need dividing. Anyone want some ‘Blue Jay”? They only get one foot tall and wide. A nice size for those very shady, hard to landscape spots.


Scabiosa ‘Butterfly Blue’, my artsy shot, I just like the mood of the shot with the selective focus.

Shasta in bud. The Allium are done until next year.

Late afternoon.

Tetracis cachexiata – White Slant-Line Moth

These are the blooms in the front yard, except the little Woodpecker. He was just cute.

Linking to GBBD at May Dreams Gardens. See other gardens around the world.

Upcoming… the back yard and side yards and a peek inside in one post. We walk across the parkway at the end of my street, to the Niagara River, and see the native blooms there.

This is a multi-post home and garden tour. I will try to add something you might not know about a plant, like I did today. So much concurrent blooming this year, I think much will be done come July. The Allium and Iris bloomed really early without fanfare or show this year. It all happened while I was gone in Pennsylvania. I am traveling much of the summer, so my garden will be blooming without me.


About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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60 Responses to GBBD in Niagara Falls

  1. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! Your garden looks amazing and your photos are breathtaking. Awesome work with that 300mm lens too.

    Your tree story is special and at least it came back home, why don’t folks just go buy their own dang tree? It’s not just the city, I live in the ‘burbs and I’m still a bit concerned when I plant something special out front.

    Happy GBBD!

    • Hey, this story happens over and over in the city. It is always a chance when planting a new bed that the plants will be there the next day. One neighbor even had her new retaining wall stolen, block by block.

  2. helensadornmentsblog says:

    Your pictures of the Japanese Lilac Tree and the Swallowtail Butterfly are amazing. I love the details in those picture. I also liked the story of the missing tree.

  3. Andrea says:

    Oh well Donna, i love everything in your post, even the tale of the missing tree. I laughed when it was returned they didn’t mind being caught on camera, haha! Those white flowers with the butterfly is so marvelous, i haven’t seen such a scene. Thank goodness you have the 300mm! And that white something looking like a moth is so elegant too. So, that’s your house in the city, i still remember the look of your first old house in the woods designed by the student of FLW.

  4. Last summer when I traveled to Maine those Japanese tree lilacs were blooming all over the place and NO ONE knew what they were. However my daughter who has lived in Maine a long time told me they were some kind of lilac. I Googled and Googled and finally discovered what they were then did a post on them. They are the equivalent of our crepe myrtles down here. They were splendid in Maine and in your garden too. Poor little tree. It’s awful someone would steal it.

    • I would love to have Crepe Myrtle. Not many plants can take the abuse that people dish out on them, and come back blooming so beautifully. I just love when I see them and they get to be a natural size and shape.

  5. Happy GBBD! When I saw the Trollius I sighed. My Trollius didn’t bloom this year–I hope it comes back next year. It’s such a unique plant. Incredible capture of the butterfly with that lens!

  6. Barbie says:

    Just so so delightful to see such vibrant colours all together and the Swallowtail photo is AMAZING!!! Thank you for sharing your brightness with us!

  7. Your butterfly pictures are gorgeous, but, oh, those rabbits! I’ll chase after the ones in my yard hollering like Farmer McGregor’s wife, and the rabbits will just take three little hops– hop, hop, hop– and stop. Sometimes they’ll turn their head just enough to give me the stink eye. At least they didn’t eat all my plants this winter.

  8. I just painted Plein Air in Sacket’s Harbor, NY … their main street is lined with the lilac trees in full bloom. Beautiful.

  9. b-a-g says:

    Donna – You give the impression of being totally fearless. Funny that guy told you off for living in the city – I would have just accepted the loss. Along with everyone else, I think the butterfly and lilac shot is amazing.

  10. HolleyGarden says:

    The lilac tree with the roses blooming underneath is just gorgeous! The bed with the hostas in it is pretty, too. I am surprised that the thieves returned the tree – especially since you posted it was videotaped. I would think they wouldn’t want to be possibly taped again – this time putting it back! They must have lived in the neighborhood to have read the sign and returned the tree the next night! People do the craziest things!

    • I told a fib on my sign about being video taped to the local criminal thugs. I only videoed the exterior of the house after that episode. The reason I did not call the police, was the cops laughed at me when I called them to report my hanging baskets being stolen. I grew them all winter from seed, and by Mother’s Day they were beautiful. I placed them outside and the next day I followed petals up the street. They became some mother’s Mothers Day gift I bet. They too were loaded into a car. I was bummed, and oh, very mad at the cops. I wanted then to write a report, but they thought I was nuts. Hey, a little crime is still a crime.

  11. sue says:

    would the syringas do OK on the pacific coast? not very cold…but my bush Korean lilac blooms all right…

    • I am unfamiliar with your planting zone and soil conditions on the Pacific coast. I would question first, salty air and windy conditions, being on the coast. Not good for many plants. These trees are pretty adaptable in zone 3-7 in sun or part shade. The require only medium moisture and as I mentioned, will live in less than the best of soil conditions. They grow in sandy loam at the farm, far better than they get in my garden. I also do not supplement their water in dry summers. This only has affected bloom, not general overall health, like I mentioned it being a bit of a stress on the plant. You might check with your Extension office, but if you do not find these trees at local nurseries, it is a good bet they are not for your area.

      • sue says:

        I am inland from the coast about 6 miles, on an ancient sand dune, so am well out of the salt zone, but on complete sand, not even sandy loam; in a low spot. Winter night temps go into the mid to high 20’s several times. Ca natives that like heavier soil do OK as long as they get bi-weekly supp water during our 7 month spring-summer-fall dry period. It’s the lack of hard winter cold and/or humidity that might affect blooming. My Korean Lilac does well, but Syringa vulgaris hybrids lack suff. chill to bloom. I’m about 500 chill hours. We do have a local wholesaler who specializes in hardier Pacific Northwest plants so I’ll pick his brain. He’s a Japanese maple specialist and it’s always a treat to have an excuse for a walkabout there! (Sommer Wholesale Nursery in Templeton, CA)

        Your photos are spectacular, by the way. Your blog has a gorgeous look. WordPress!

        • It sounds like you live at a beautiful spot. Nice that you know a Japanese Maple specialist. They are my favorite trees, and have so many varieties. The farm grows some of them, but just the popular varieties. We order in the more unusual specimens for clients.

  12. As always…wow, wow and more wow!!! Gorgeous gardens, beautiful presentation and such a joy to visit. Happy GBBD!

  13. Nice to get a copy of the magazine again. :O) It seems like it has been a while! Missed it! I love lilac trees, and unfortunately as you pointed out they don’t grow in my zone. Our alternative is the crape myrtle but not near as stunning or fragrant. Of course, I love your flutter by shots! Happy GBBD!

    • I have had a couple of bloggers say they cannot either read or put the written word to dictation. So I stopped with the magazine format. I love doing it each month, but if it makes viewing it difficult, I had to rethink how I was posting it. I did not know Crepe Myrtles did not have much of a fragrance. Do they have any smell?

  14. I did not know that about the Japanese Lilac tree. It is a tree I have admired, and now I can admire it for more reasons. Your garden looks beautiful, and I really enjoyed the butterfly photos.

  15. I remember reading that story about the missing tree when you posted it but I didn’t know you then. Now it is even funnier. Like Tina I always notice these trees in Maine. I just love the butterfly shot with the blue blue sky.

    • It was kinda funny after, but when I spotted the tree missing, I was livid. I think I was really shocked to see it come back. I was thinking they might have come back for the second tree and got spooked.

  16. Meant to say that I haven’t been able to get on Blotanical in two days.

  17. Layanee says:

    Love the tree lilac and I did not know that it was a butterfly favorite but I have smelled its fragrance. Beautiful Bloom Day.

    • I have seen quite a few Swallowtails feeding on them this year. The problem most years, is that the tree blooms too early. This year was just right I guess for the butterflies. I saw two hummingbirds feeding too, but they take off as soon as they see me. They are harder to sneak up on.

  18. GirlSprout says:

    I like the contrast of the frothy lilac blossoms and the swallow tail and the allium with the daisy buds. Your photos of allium make me wonder why I don’t have more. 🙂

  19. Drooling over that swallowtail on the Japanese lilac Donna and such a beautiful selection for GBBD.

  20. Mac says:

    Gorgeous photos!

  21. Indie says:

    How sad when someone steals a tree! That is some interesting info about Japanese lilac trees. I wonder how they would do here in NC – it’s too hot for most lilacs, being zone 7b (and I think pushing 8). The smell of lilacs is so amazing, though.
    Beautiful swallowtail! Happy GBBD!

    • Happens quite a bit, especially at commercial sites. I think where you are is far too warm for them to flower, but you can check with local growers to be sure. There may be a hybrid that is more adapted, but I never did hear of one.

  22. Viewed a Lilac tree from afar as I was driving by. It was spectacular. However that was a month ago. I would like to plant anything that attracts tigers! Very nice images as always. I enjoy your craftsmanship.
    I’m sure you were attentive to the high wire act taking place last night. Enjoy your garden and delicious treasure.

    • Yes, I did see the televised version at my husband’s insistence. I was not as surprised at the environmental conditions Nik faced, but was surprised at how calm and efficient he was facing those conditions. My husband was mad at me for not wanting to go and take pictures. He suggested we walk to Canada and view from any one of the places there, but honestly, I did not have the desire to see the performance. I was glad to have watched it on TV though, which had by far, the best viewing with that traveling camera and helicopter images. The Maid of the Mist was in the River below and I am sure that was a wonderful spot, but I am guessing, that was for crew and dignitaries. I told my husband the mist would block much of the live viewing too.

  23. Donna, I love those trees…just lovely and the pollinators love it too…my globe trollius are spectacular this year too and I just love taking pics of them so i was thrilled to see yours…another spectacular Bloom Day in your garden! Eventually i would love to get to where you are with photography…love the artsy shot!

    • You should see them blooming at the farm, Donna. That really is a pretty sight with fields of them. They are done for the year at the farm though, I should have remembered to get their photo.

  24. Marisa says:

    Beautiful blooms and butterflies for GBBD. Love the Japanese lilac, and glad to hear of its eventual if not complete recovery. Where I lived about 10 years ago was close to main road, and I can remember chatting to an Italian neighbour who had a lovely terraced garden, but he had put chains around his rose bushes due to continual theft. Luckily, no problems here in my present abode!

  25. I can’t believe that someone stole your tree!! Amazing gall. I told you before how much I love Japanese Lilac trees, how cool to have two. I am impressed you were able to nurse the stolen one back to health.
    It is funny, my Becky daisies are just now starting to open… are so much further north and we are at the same place bloom-wise.
    I had all my little seeds sown (the ones we got from the Fling) and had all these little seedlings coming up…..then overnight— Mr. Bunny. I am really disappointed. Maybe there are some that will still come up. Have used my deer/rabbit spray.

    • I was surprised too that the tree would recover. It was in very sad shape. With some shrubs and perennials, they can be out of the ground for a week with no problem, but trees have a tendency to really sulk being bare rooted. Even the balled and burlapped ones need some protection from the sun. Ever notice at good nurseries how they bury them in pea gravel? They do that on the farm too.

  26. Love your little woodpecker.

  27. Donna, at your suggestion I have set your posts to arrive “immediately” instead of arriving as a weekly archive as do all of my other “follows.” I CHEERED over how you got the tree back! Thanks for sharing your “city” garden so elegantly with your beautiful photos and engaging narrative. I always learn some useful information from your posts and get many landscaping ideas!

    • Thanks, I am glad you are seeing the recent posts, rather than the older ones. Like I said, it is more for the benefit of others seeing your really creative and funny daily posts, also, maybe you might get some book sales out of it. Garden bloggers like there books, funny and technical. I loved reading the humor in the letters in your current book.

  28. Masha says:

    Thank you for the tour of your garden, I enjoyed it a lot! Wonderful photography, as always, and did you hand-hold that 300mm lens?

    • I always hand hold the 300mm and I have been getting better holding the 400mm too. It is too hard to shoot moving birds on a tripod, but I have done that also. I find wildlife photography easier when I have my freedom to follow a subject.

  29. KazuMi says:


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