2009-06-13 / Top News

Growing Lilacs Is Focus of Festival Program

By Kerri Jo Molitor

Jan Young (left) quizzes Ayla Massaway after teaching her how to take care of a lilac at her "Learning To Grow" program at Ste. Anne's Church Sunday, June 7. The program had a good turnout Sunday, despite the rain, Mrs. Young said. The children who came to the program took home a lilac and a patch. The patches were created by Mary Slevin, director of the Tourism Bureau, because of the popularity of the program with Girl Scouts. Jan Young (left) quizzes Ayla Massaway after teaching her how to take care of a lilac at her "Learning To Grow" program at Ste. Anne's Church Sunday, June 7. The program had a good turnout Sunday, despite the rain, Mrs. Young said. The children who came to the program took home a lilac and a patch. The patches were created by Mary Slevin, director of the Tourism Bureau, because of the popularity of the program with Girl Scouts. The idea to teach children as well as adults how to grow lilacs came to Jan Young when she attended the Mackinac Island Lilac Festival with her husband, lilac curator Jeff Young. She now teaches the "Learning To Grow" program at Ste. Anne's Church during the annual Lilac Festival. The program not only teaches children how to plant and grow lilacs, it gives them a lilac to take home.

"I saw these poor little guys being drug around to these adult lectures and I said, why can't we do something for them?" asked Mrs. Young.

Teaching the proper care of lilacs to youngsters is important, she said, because it will stick with them their whole lives. She brings different varieties of lilacs each year, and this year she brought along "Superba." It is a dwarf lilac that only grows to about four to five feet in height, and twice that big around, she said.

The lilacs come from Briggs Nursery in Washington, which puts out 22 million lilacs a year and is interested in educational programs like the one Mrs. Young teaches.

She helps the students plant their lilacs in foam cups and explains to them, and their parents, how to care for the plants for the first few years.

"The most important thing is lilacs don't like wet feet," she said. "They need six hours of sunlight a day, preferably in the morning."

She also explained how to transplant the lilac into a fourinch pot once they get home, and then move it to a six-inch pot when it outgrows that., and to plant the lilac in the ground for the winter, because it should be allowed to go dormant during cold weather.

Ayla Massaway, a first grade student from the Lansing area, came to the program with her mother, Alyssa Ebaugh, Sunday, June 7.

Mrs. Ebaugh said Ayla loves to go the flower shop with her and understands that growing things takes a long time. Growing the lilac will be Ayla's job.

"Me and my mom have a big yard and a bird feeder," she said, noting that she likes working in the garden.

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