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Beauty of Moscow Is a Bittersweet Lilac Delight

image:- portersnurseries.comIt should be no surprise to other passionate plant collectors that when syringa “Beauty of Moscow” a.k.a. Krasavitsa Moskvy, was introduced, I was compelled to buy one for myself.

In truth, I didn’t need another lilac shrub. There were already too many growing in my garden. However, the hype accompanying this new plant was strong and, like many other gardeners who can hardly wait for the next wowing plant to become available, I succumbed to the charms of the publicity, without waiting for other gardeners’ feedback.

As is often the case in my area, new varieties are not immediately included in wholesalers’ inventory. Growers and distributors in USDA Zone 4 need to test grow a plant for hardiness before they are comfortable offering it to the public. Since I was impatient, it was necessary to order Beauty of Moscow from a mass-market catalogue house.

image:- plants unlimited.comUsually, I try not to buy from such sources. Some of you already know that these suppliers outrageously ship seedling-sized plants at prices that are equivalent to those of one or two-year-old potted plants sold at nurseries. Consequently, the size of the Beauty of Moscow lilac that I received in the mail was pitifully small for the price I paid.

After watching it develop at a very slow pace and eventually reading what other gardeners reported, I am now pessimistic about the future of this plant in my garden. Some have been dismayed by its early sparseness. That is, it did not produce lush leaves, while branches sprout at a distance from one another, leaving large negative spaces in between. Others find that it is invasive because it suckers too much.

Clearly, this plant is sold only for its superlatives. The flower heads of Beauty of Moscow are larger than the blooms on any other lilac shrub growing in my garden. It sports huge, deep pink flower buds that open into enormous white petals. The combination and contrast of the pink buds with white petals is stunning.  It is also extremely fragrant, exuding a powerful, hypnotic and sweet perfume.  

This flowering shrub cannot satisfy everyone’s gardening needs. Homeowners looking for a multipurpose, tall, lush shrub with minimal maintenance are advised to choose among the endless varieties of more conventional lilac shrubs that are available everywhere.

However, gardeners who always hunt for the next intense sensory experience, and who are comfortable buying plants they don’t really need – and there are many of us who belong to this group :) - will be delighted with syringa Beauty of Moscow, even though they might end up fighting to stop it from suckering. We gardeners are a very unusual group!

Click here for a magnificent copyrighted image of this lilac's flowerhead, taken by Linda Stanzel.

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Reader Comments (9)

What a gorgeous lilac! I have a standard purple one that blooms outside my bedroom window and a white one that spills over from my neighbors yard on the other side. I'd love to add one like this.

July 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDiane C

I think that the beauty of a garden suffers overall when gardeners so admire a flower that they stop seeing the ugly plant below on which it's growing. Thanks for this realistic assessment of a new introduction without the plant breeder/distributor hype.

July 19, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCatherine

I had five Beauties of Moscow, deer ate two, and the three remaining don't bloom very well even after five years. Oh well, I tried. JC

July 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJack

I love lilacs, but have never come across the Beauty of Moscow. I am certainly going to be on the lookout for it however!

For those that might be interested, I have a new iBook, The Secret Life of Flowers, that is available on iTunes for free. The link is

There is also an Acrobat version that can be downloaded on my website at

I hope you enjoy the book, and please pass the link on to those that might be interested.

Ed B.

August 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEd B.

That is one beautiful lilac. I've never seen a bush this color. I bet it smells amazing.

August 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCoraline

That is such a gorgeous color for a lilac bush! Might have to get one of these for my mother's garden, she loves lilacs.

August 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohn

These are such nice lilacs. I had no idea they could be this beautiful.

May 7, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

I am always looking for new plant suggestions so your insight was greatly appreciated.

September 12, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie@Seattle Trekker

I love the smell of lilac. It's the sweetest odor ever! My mother has a garden and she has lilac just like this one. It's amazing! Regards!

October 30, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterEmma

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