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Lilac farm provides delightful trip back in time

Hulda Klager developed dozens of hybrids in the 20th century


by: BARBARA SHERMAN - AIR FILLED WITH SCENT OF LILACS - Despite April 30 being a cool and sometimes drizzly day, King City Travel Club members enjoyed touring the Hulda Klager home and gardens in Woodland, Wash., including her 1889 Victorian home filled with antiques and furnishings from the time period that she lived there.Purple and lavender were the colors of the day as the King City Travel Club took a trip to the Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens in Woodland, Wash., on April 30.

Hulda Klager was 2 years old when her parents brought her from Germany to the U.S. in 1865, moving to a farm they purchased in Woodland in 1877 when she was 13.

Her home, built in 1889 on the original farmland, is located on four acres that are now tucked between subdivisions, a little spot of rural Washington in a growing town.

Hulda married and had children so was too busy to make time for flowers until 1903, when she was recovering from an illness and received a book about Luther Burbank, who improved plants through propagation.

Hulda started propagating apples but soon moved on to lilacs in 1905; by 1910, she had 14 new varieties, and five years later, had enough varieties to hold her first open house during spring bloom.

Tragedy struck in 1948, when the farm, located between the Lewis and Columbia rivers, was flooded; for six weeks, most of Woodland was under water, and virtually all of Hulda's work was destroyed.

Hulda was 83 by then but started working to restore her garden once the water receded. Luckily, people she had sold lilacs to brought her starts to replace the ones that had been lost, and within two years, Hulda, who became known as the Lilac Lady, restored her gardens and started holding her open houses again, which she continued to do until her death in 1960.

Her family sold the farm and gardens, which were in danger of being turned into a housing development until the local garden club stepped in to save them and restore the home to its Victorian origins.

by: BARBARA SHERMAN - LILACS BLOOMING EVERYWHERE -  King City Travel Club members, including Dell Duda (left) and Mary Morgan, enjoyed touring the Hulda Klager home and gardens in Woodland, Wash., with the plant starts for sale (in the rear) being a popular place to stop. The Hulda Klager Lilac Society owns and maintains the home and gardens today, opening them to the public during "Lilac Days," which runs from mid-April through Mother's Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.

Inside the quaintly furnished home, volunteers dressed in flowery dresses, aprons and garden hats, describe the various rooms and furnishings.

Meanwhile, outside, visitors can stroll through the gardens and purchase all sizes of lilac plants from starts to multi-gallon size.

In addition, a charming gift shop offers garden-inspired crafts and other items.

The Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens is located at 115 South Pekin Road, Woodland, Wash., 98674.

For more information, visit www.lilacgardens.com or call 360-225-8996.

(Most of this information was taken from a brochure handed out to visitors.)