As we go about our lives everyday, we see minor gardening transgressions; trees scarred by weed strimmers, those high mulch collars smothering little saplings, and such. Then there are crimes against nature. Please witness exhibit A...
This is what's left of the beautiful lilacs down the road from my house. I have looked forward to their billowing lavender flowers every year. Unfortunately I saw a heap of trimmings on the lawn the other day and now this is all that remains.
Lilacs bloom on what is called old wood. Any pruning should be done immediately after they flower. New buds will form soon and any late pruning will sacrifice next season's blossoms. Any other pruning to shape or renovate should be done using the rule of thirds. Never remove more than a third of the plant.
Renovation pruning goes in and removes selected older limbs from the bottom, leaving a good amount of newer branches to achieve balance.
In my last home, we lived in an older neighborhood that prized its parks. In fact, it was supposedly modeled after an English village. With the vast, expansive lawns and wide streets, it was evident the founders hadn't lived in a real English village. I have. But it's the thought that counts.
Incorporated as a tiny town, we had our own parks commissioner. One year he visited London and came back inspired to transform our already-lovely landscapes into Hyde Park. He ordered all the shrubs bullied into balls and hedges, including the lilacs. For the next three years, until the lilacs regrouped, we had no blooms.
Life's too short to go without lilacs. Prune them properly, please.