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It’s Lilac Time in Lombard

Submitted by on May 7, 2021 – 10:15 pmNo Comment

Lilac Time, Lombard, IllinoisLilac Time is well underway in Lombard, Illinois. It opened May 1, 2021, in the Chicago suburb, and continues through May 16, 2021, in Lilacia Park, 150 South Park Avenue, Lombard.

Lilacia Park tours are given daily at 11 a.m.

The annual Lombard Lilac Parade has been postponed until 1:30 p.m. September 19, 2021, along East Wilson Avenue in Lombard.

According to the website, Lombard owes its lilac collection to Col. William Plum and his wife Helen Maria Williams Plum. The Colonel was born in Massillon, Stark County, Ohio, March 24, 1845. After service in the Civil War as a Master Telegrapher, he entered Yale Law School in 1865 and married Helen Williams in 1867.

In 1869 he left the East and traveled to Chicago where he hoped to practice law. After a short stay there he decided to investigate other areas, and by chance traveled west to the new village of Lombard, formerly known as Babcock’s Grove. He purchased land on the corner of Park and Maple. The estate would eventually be known as Lilacia. The Plums had become enamored of lilacs while taking the Grand Tour of Europe and visiting the famous gardens of Victor Lemoine (1823-1911), in Nancy, France.

After touring the gardens, the Plums purchased two lilacs, Syringa vulgaris ‘Mme Casimir Périer’, a double white, and Syringa vulgaris ‘Michel Buchner’, a double lilac color. The present collection of lilacs in Lilacia begins with these two cultivars.

Helen Plum died March 25, 1924, and the Colonel, as he was still known affectionately, offered the collection for sale and also to Joy Morton. Good fortune smiled on Lombard when both situations failed to become reality. It was Morton (founder of Morton Salt) that told the Colonel that the collection had become so much a part of Lombard that they should remain there, and not at his Thornhill Farm in nearby Lisle, now known as the Morton Arboretum.

Colonel Plum passed away on April 28, 1927, and it is because of the Plums’ extraordinary generosity and public spirit that we in Lombard have the most unique park in DuPage County. In paragraph nine of his will, the Colonel states that the land be given to the people of Lombard as a public park, and in the memory of his wife, their house be given as a “free public library and reading rooms.”

In September 1927, according to the website, the people of Lombard voted to accept the stipulations as set down by Colonel Plum and the Lombard Park District came to be. The famous landscape architect Jens Jensen was commissioned by the Park District to design what was called the Lombard Community Garden, now known throughout the area as Lilacia Park.
Lilacia Park, Lombard, Illinois

(Photos courtesy of Lombard Parks District)

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