The Lilac Lady

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

For years I've noticed a sign on I-5 near Woodland, Washington for the Hulda Klager Lilac Garden and always made a mental note to come visit when the lilacs are in bloom. Of course I always forget, but this Spring I was lucky enough to have a friend invite me along for a little drive up from Portland to check it out.

The Lilac Days run from mid April through Mother's Day and are the only time the house on the estate is open to the public, though the grounds can be accessed any time. You can also buy plants during the Lilac Days. 

It was an immensely beautiful day. The skies really were that blue! It's a perfect place for a picnic. The grounds surrounding the old white house are a mix of brick pathways and green lawns. Of course the lilac trees are the star attraction but there are also lovely mixed beds near the house and a lot of impressive rhododendrons.

I haven't seen it stated as such, but my guess would be that Hulda Klager was the world's foremost lilac breeder. She developed over 250 lilac varieties in her lifetime. She held her first open house in 1920, a tradition carried on today by the Hulda Klager Lilac Society. 

A couple varieties that really caught my attention were this double, dark purple variety called Adelaide Dunbar--the unopened blossoms actually looked red. 

Alexander's Pink Lilac had vivid pink blossoms with a unique, more upright habit, reminding me of a butterfly bush. So pretty.

It was fun to see the inside of the house which is full of memorabilia and family photos of the farm. The house was built in 1889 and seems to be mostly in it's original state, though I spotted some modern light fixtures (circa 1920's!). 

It really is a bucolic setting. I love that the paint isn't in perfect condition. Things are ever so slightly rough around the edges. There was an assortment of wonderful old floral wallpaper throughout the house. You really get a sense of what life was like for Hulda living there most of her 97 years.

Somebody was painting en plein air in the front of the house. 

Out front there was a magnificent Monkey Puzzle Tree with cones in full, fuzzy, chartreuse glory. 


  1. Absolutely gorgeous! How long ago did you visit? The lilacs are probably on their way out now so I'll have to remember to plan a trip for next year...

  2. I think it was May 7th when I was there. They are probably all brown and icky now but yes, you should set a reminder now to go next year. It's so pretty!

  3. Like you I've seen the sign and always meant to go visit, but never have. Thank you for I know a little of what I've been missing.

  4. Danger Garden, you'll love it! I'm sorry I waited so long to go--it's going to be a yearly pilgrimage for me now.

  5. Ever since moving to Washington state i have wanted to visit this place during the lilac bloom. Haven't yet made that happen, so happy that you have shared it with us via your blog.

  6. It's a bit of a haul for you from Bainbridge but you could make a fun day of it with a picnic. Hope you get to go next year--it's such a sweet place!


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