Lilac Festival


PARIS – There won’t be any tiptoeing through the tulips over Memorial Day weekend at McLaughlin Gardens. But, that’s OK. There’s plenty to see and smell with the profusion of wildflowers and blooming multi-hued lilacs for visitors planning to attend the annual Lilac Festival from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, Sunday and Monday.

Executive Director Michael Desplaines of Albany Township said early Thursday evening that the last two weeks of cool temperatures have curtailed the rapid growth spurt of the garden’s more than 200 different varieties of lilacs.

“We had a warm early May, and they got going really fast, but then the rain and cold temperatures put them on pause,” Desplaines said.

“Last year at this time, it was so cold and so wet that they were all gone, which left many people disappointed. But, with the weather expected for this weekend, I think they’ll be fantastic. Personally, I think it’s a good year for blooms,” he added.

The gardens sport what Desplaines said he believes is the largest private collection of lilacs in Maine.

“I did a tour today, and, it was intoxicating. If it gets warm like what’s expected this weekend, people will be able to smell them from the road – drive-by smellings!” he said, laughing.

Garden tours are scheduled to start at 11 a.m., noon and 2 p.m., and a lilac-care workshop will be held at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., today and Sunday. Perennials and lilacs will be on sale.

Additionally, the third annual 5K Lilac Lap race will be held starting at 8 a.m. on Monday. For more information, a race application and course map, visit

New to the gardens this year are $10,000 worth of restorative work to the historic 1840 house, a Wednesday-through-Sunday schedule for the Garden Cafe (, and two Dutch elm disease resistant trees that replaced two diseased maple trees taken out in the winter, Desplaines said.

“It was great to be able to replant elms again. They’re only 3 to 4 feet tall now, but 100 years from now, they will be spectacular,” he said.

Additionally, the garden is featured in this month’s Yankee magazine as an Editor’s Choice selection, “which is a nice honor,” he added.