Lilac Sunday

Lilacs at the Arnold Arboretum

Lilac Sunday

Sunday, May 10, 2015 (10:00am to 3:00pm)

About Of the thousands of flowering plants in the Arboretum, only one, the lilac, is singled out each year for a daylong celebration. Mainly located on the edge of Bussey Hill Road in the heart of the landscape, the lilac collection at the Arnold Arboretum is among the premier collections of these plants in North America.

Tours of the lilacs and other special collections, family activities, and food vendors make for a memorable day. Be a part of this beloved Boston tradition! Check back for the day-of schedule of events.

The Arboretum is open as usual from dawn to dusk. Activities are available from 10:00am to 3:00pm, and refreshments are available from 11:00am to 3:00pm.

Note that due to construction, the Casey Overpass will permanently close to westbound traffic (toward the Arnold Arboretum from Forest Hills) on May 9; though traffic will be re-routed at the surface level through Forest Hills, you may wish to seek an alternate route for Lilac Sunday. The overpass will close to traffic in both directions on May 16.

Street parking along the Arboretum perimeter is limited and visitors are advised to take public transportation. No unauthorized vehicles will be allowed within the gates during Lilac Sunday.

Some parking spaces outside the gates will be designated for special-needs visitors. A limited number of wheelchairs are available on a first-come, first-served basis at information tents in three locations: in front of the Hunnewell Visitor Center, inside the Forest Hills Gate, and inside the Centre Street Gate. They may not be reserved in advance.

Lilac Collection:
With more than 370 lilac plants of 167 kinds, the Arboretum holds one of the premier lilac collections in North America.

All proceeds from t-shirt sales will benefit the Arboretum’s elementary school programs. T-shirts cost $20 for nonmembers, and $15 for members (including new members who sign up at the Membership tent on Sunday).

Become a member:
Join the Friends of the Arnold Arboretum as a new member on Lilac Sunday and receive a special lilac seedling while supplies last. Look for the membership tent near the lilacs.

Find out more about this event and lilacs at the Arnold Arboretum.

Tours Enjoy the lilacs, and explore other featured collections at the Arboretum. Tours last about 45 minutes.

10:00am–2:30pm (every 15 minutes on the quarter-hour)
Arboretum Tours
Learn about the Arboretum’s history and mission as you walk to the lilac collection, noticing unique trees and shrubs along the way.
—Meet at Hunnewell Lawn

10:00am–2:30pm (every half hour)
Lilac Collection Tours
Learn about the lilac collection and the characteristics of lilacs, from species collected from wild populations to some of the 131 cultivars that have been selected for certain horticultural merits such as flower size and color.
—Meet at the Ponds Information Tent near the lower section of the Lilac Collection

12:30pm & 2:00pm
Explorers Garden Tours
Learn about the plants grown in this microclimate since being collected in the expeditions of E. H. Wilson in the early 1900s.
—Meet at Lilac Collection

10:30am & 12:30pm
Leventritt Shrub & Vine Garden Tours
Learn about sun-loving shrubs and vines you can grow in your home garden which are displayed in a formal garden setting.
—Meet at Hunnewell Lawn

Self-Guided Lilac Tour
Enjoy signs in the landscape at featured lilacs to learn as you enjoy the amazing diversity of this special collection. Download a tour brochure [pdf] to accompany the tour, or use your smartphone to walk the lilac tour using our new mobile app, Arboretum Explorer.

Other 10:00am–3:00pm
Become a member of the Friends of the Arnold Arboretum and receive a free lilac! This year’s new member lilac is ‘Yankee Doodle’, a cultivar of the common lilac.

Explore on Your Own
Conifer Path showcases the diversity of coniferous plants from temperate regions around the world including the dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) and golden larch (Pseudolarix amabilis). Mobile tour »

The Larz Anderson Bonsai Collection is a historic collection of Japanese dwarfed trees—some specimens are over 275 years old.

The Malus Collection (apples/crabapples) on Peter’s Hill bloom in white and shades of red ranging from pale pink to deep purplish rose creating a spectacular display among our 445 plants in this collection. Mobile tour »

Rhododendron Dell at the foot of Hemlock Hill is a contemplative landscape showcasing the Arboretum’s core collection of hybrid and evergreen rhododendrons. Mobile tour »

Kids 10:00am–3:00pm
Horticulture Truck Display
Come see a display of the various trucks used to take care of the Arboretum. Arborists will be on hand to answer questions!
—Centre Street Gate

Family Activities
—Hunnewell Lawn

  • Lilac memory card game
  • Design your own Mother’s Day card
  • Lilac and pollinator temporary tattoos
  • Origami
  • Fragrance tests
  • Mug board for photos
Press Please contact Jon Hetman for further information, additional images, or press queries.

Lilac Sunday 2015 Press Release [pdf]
Publicity Image 1 [Credit: Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University]
Publicity Image 2 [Credit: Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University]
Publicity Image 3 [Credit: Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University]
Lilac Collection at the Arnold Arboretum
Lilacs–Plants of History, Plants of Tomorrow
Best Lilacs for New England Gardens