Monday, May 2, 2011

Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens

Ever wanted to take a step back in time? Immerse yourself in someone else's life? Last Friday, I enjoyed a glimpse into the life of Hulda Klager. This glimpse is only a short drive south to Woodland, Washington at the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens. The appeal of the trip is the incredible lilac gardens, but there is so much more than just gardens.

Hulda Klager's Home
First we strolled up the walkway towards the beautiful historic house. This home is filled with the history of Hulda Klager, including many pictures of her family and stories depicting "normal" life at the time. Here is a framed story I enjoyed:
Hulda's bedroom with original dresser, bed and quilt.

Hulda's "mail order" stove.
"Hulda tells the story of her mother, Mrs. Thiel, when she lived in Germany. One fall day in the mid 1850's, Mrs. Thiel went out to her farmyard to feed her pet geese. To her dismay, they were lying on the ground apparently dead. Shedding a few tears but still the practical farmer's wife, she carried the geese into her big warm kitchen and proceeded to pluck off their feathers. While plucking the last one, to her astonishment the geese started to get up and stagger around the kitchen. Eventually all the geese were running around in the house sans featheres and quite a spectacle. Mrs. Thiel was so happy to see her pets alive again that she couldn't chop off their heads. 'What to do with naked geese?' she thought. Winter was close at hand and they would surely freeze. The family trait of originality popped up and she made red flannel underwear for the whole flock, thereby solving the problem until nature had replenished the plucked feathers with a new set of natural clothes for the pets. Mrs. Thiel later discovered that her geese had eaten some cider mash which had fermented. They had become thoroughly intoxicated and were in a 'drunken stupor' when she picked them up for dead."

After visiting Hulda's home, we went outside to enjoy her beautiful gardens. Hulda Klager's passion was hybridizing plants, but especially lilacs. It seems like we were a week or two early since many varieties were not yet blooming. Even so, there were many varieties in bloom. Here are a few of my favorites.

From a distance, this one looked like a pink cloud:
"California Rose"
"Royal Purple"
"Mrs. Bereasha"
"My Favorite"
 I loved how these pink buds opened to a lavender flower:
Pres. Grevy
Mm. Lemoine
 With a name like "Hallelujah", how could I resist taking a picture of this one?
Pink is such an unusual color for lilacs and I especially enjoyed this dark pink bud and pretty pink bloom:
"Esther Staley"
 This is one of the select varieties labeled as "extremely fragrant".
"Katherine Havemeyer"
And would you believe it? Three of us unintentionally color coordinated for the visit:

If you enjoy lilacs, I suggest you take time to go down and visit these lilac gardens. They are open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The farm house will close on May 8th, but the gift shop and gardens remain open until May 14th.


  1. And, the fragrance is amazing!

  2. They have a small gift shop also. In the gift shop is the most amazing lilac lotion - made from their own lilacs.

  3. I was there this past Sunday! Every May Day is my traditional annual trip to the lilac farm and I always leave for home with a new one - this year I got the Adelaide Dunbar (a magenta hued lilac). It will join the other 12 lilacs in my yard! (8 of them are from the farm) My boyfriend Marc got the very fragrant Mt Baker white lilac for his Mom - aaah.
    I also love the old farmhouse with the white clapboard siding and vintage floral wallpapers in the bedrooms.

  4. oh!! i'll have to go next year - i love this kind of stuff!!