A gift for the purchase and planting of approximately three dozen period lilacs was given to the Centre County Historical Society in 2005 to honor Laura Bower with her favorite flower. This rich collection, given in her memory by her son, Jeffrey M. Bower, has been named Laura’s Lilac Bower. Lilac varieties have been chosen that date from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; range in color from white to pink and magenta, and from violet to purple and blue. Miss Ellen Wilmot, Montaigne, Marechal Foch, DeMiribel, Monge, and President Grevy are some of the single and double-flowered examples. They will be blooming each May.

Lilacs (Syringa) were a favorite with the Victorians, as well as a frequent landscaping choice by Centre County residents well into the 1900s. Despite the many changes that have been made to the Mansion grounds over the years, three lilac shrubs have survived from an earlier time and will serve as companions to this wonderful new collection.

The lilac collection was installed by volunteers led by Penn State Master Gardeners of Centre County during the 2005 and 2006 PNC United Way Day of Caring.

It certainly will be lilac time each spring at Centre Furnace when Laura’s Lilac Bower is in bloom.

Lilac List

  • Syringa x chinensis ‘Saugeana’
    Reddish single purple, introduced by Loudon in 1885, large shrub, mid season bloom
  • S. x hyacithiflora ‘Pocahontas’
    Purple, single, introduced by Skinner in 1935, tall, showy, early
  • S. x hyacithiflora ‘Buffon’
    Pink/lavender, single, introduced by Lemoine in 1921, tall
  • S. meyeri ‘Palibin’
    Deep/medium violet, single, Dwarf Korean Lilac, good fall leaf color, very small
  • S. microphylla ‘Superba’
    Pink, single, introduced by Chenault in 1910, low growing, little leaf, mid season
  • S.vulgaris ‘Andenken Ludwig Spaeth’
    Dark purple, single, introduced in 1883 by E. H. Wilson, late season
  • S. v. ‘Charles Joly’
    Dark purple, double, introduced by Lemoine in 1896, mid season
  • S. v. ‘De Miribel’
    Violet, single, introduced by Lemoine in 1890, very fragrant, mid season
  • S. v. ‘Edith Cavell’
    White, double, introduced by Lemoine in 1916, showy, mid season
  • S. v. ‘Katherine Havemeyer’
    Pink/lavender, double, introduced by Lemoine in 1924, mid season
  • S. v. ‘Lucie Baltet’
    Pink, single, introduced by Baltet before 1988, low growing, mid season
  • S. v. ‘Marc Micheli’
    Violet, double, introduced by Lemoine in 1898, mid season
  • S. v. ‘Marechal Foch’
    Magenta, single, introduced by Lemoine in 1924, very large, mid season
  • S. v. ‘Miss Ellen Willmott’
    White, double, introduced by Lemoine in 1903, mid season
  • S. v. ‘Mme. Lemoine’
    White, double, introduced by Lemoine in 1890, very fragrant, mid season
  • S. v. ‘Monge’
    Purple, single, introduced by Lemoine in 1913, showy, mid season
  • S. v. ‘Montaigne’
    Pink, double, introduced by Lemoine in 1907, mid season
  • S. v. ‘President Grevy’
    Blue, double, introduced by Lemoine in 1886, huge panicles, mid season
  • S. v. ‘President Lincoln’
    Blue, single, introduced by Dunbar in 1916, tall, mid season