SOUTH PARIS  — At McLaughlin Garden this weekend, spring will be in the air.

“The smell is overwhelming. We’ve got more than 125 kinds of lilacs here,” said Jennifer Caldwell-Jeans, volunteer and program coordinator for McLaughlin Garden. “It’s quite spectacular to look at, too, with colors from blue to purple to pink to white.”

This weekend marks the 13th annual Lilac Festival at McLaughlin Garden, a non-profit public garden and historic homestead in South Paris.

The festival will include access to the entire property, including the 1850 house and barn, food and gifts for sale, plus guided garden tours, lilac sales and lilac care workshops.

At 1 p.m. Saturday, there will be a public reading of the Walt Whitman poem, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.”
The tours are of the entire 3-acre-plus garden, and include information on the history of the property.

Usually, access to the garden and grounds is free. But since the lilac festival is a major fundraiser for the garden, there will be a $5 admission fee for non-members during the festival.

It all started in 1936 as the home garden of Bernard McLaughlin, a self-taught gardener.

McLaughlin welcomed whoever wanted to tour his gardens, and over the years his property became a mecca for garden enthusiasts.
He tended the garden himself for most of his life. McLauglin died in 1995 at age 98.

The property is now run by a nonprofit organization.

Garden plants include hostas, day lilies, iris, phlox, ferns and of course, lilacs.

“This festival began when the (nonprofit) began, and it’s gained in popularity every year,” said Caldwell-Jeans.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:
[email protected]

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