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Purple flowers bloom in the Lilac City | Community Spirit

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Purple flowers bloom in the Lilac City
Purple flowers bloom in the Lilac City

Park staff estimate the blooms in the Manito Park Lilac Garden will be at their best on May 20th. The purple and pink flowers are ready just in time for the Lilac Festival and to usher in spring in the Lilac City.


Surprisingly, lilac bushes are not native to Spokane. They were first planted here by J.J. Browne in 1906 at West 2226 Second Ave. in the now popular Browne's Addition. By 1912, 128 lilac bushes had been brought over from Rochester, NY to start the Manito Park Lilac Garden.


It was the in the early 1930s that Spokane became known as the “Lilac City” when three men, Dr. S.E. Lambert, W.T. Triplett and John W. Duncan, encouraged the garden club to plant the bushes around town. In 1938 Spokane was celebrating with the Lilac Festival.


101 years after the first lilac bush was planted in Manito Park there are 23 distinct species of lilacs in the garden. The Lilac Garden is considered one of the most important in the West. In 1999, a new species of lilac was named for the Lilac City, Syringa Spokane, and features double pink blooms that turn to a lighter pink-white when they open.


Before you head downtown this weekend for the 75th Annual Spokane Lilac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade, consider stopping by Manito to take in this year's lilac blooms and the history they represent.  

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