Saturday, May 2, 2009

"The Lilac Lady"

I mentioned taking a road trip to the Hulda Krager Lilac Gardens in Woodland, Washington yesterday, but I did not give you the insight into this spectacular place and remarkable woman.

Hulda Klager came to this country from Germany with her family in 1865 when she was two years old. She spoke often of her love for flowers and how as a little girl in Wisconsin she would wander through the woods near her home looking for wildflowers. Her family moved to Woodland, Washington in 1877 when she was 13 years old, purchased farmland and built a home.

Even though she was busy with the demands of marriage, home and family, she continued to find time to work with flowers. While she was recovering from an illness in 1903, some of her friends brought her a book by Luther Burbank, a renowned hybridizer at the time. After reading his book, she was anxious to begin her own experiments with hybridizing plants — especially apples. Her interest in apples came from a desire to save time making pies, because she felt it took too long to peel all those little apples! So she set out to develop a bigger apple by crossing the mild Wolf River apple with the sour, juicy Bismarck apple, and was delighted with the result.

In 1905 she began hybridizing lilacs and by 1910 she had created 14 new varieties. By 1920 she had developed so many new varieties that she decided to hold an open house each spring when the lilacs were in full bloom to share her efforts with other lilac enthusiasts. This practice caused her to become known as “The Lilac Lady.”

To find out more about this remarkable lady and Lilac Society which mantains the gardens read further and be sure to visit in May.

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