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Lilac nursery opens in Potsdam

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POTSDAM — The scent of lilac will perfume the air surrounding Moore’s Hill Bed and Breakfast more than most north country yards.

That is because the owners of the bed and breakfast, Janice A. and Clifford G. Westerling, have spent the last three years starting a lilac nursery of 27 varieties, some of which bloom in succession.

“It’s quite a big variety to choose from,” Mrs. Westerling said. “We have some real specialties.”

Lilacs are everywhere in the north country but a nursery that focuses only on them is uncommon.

Moore’s Hill Lilacs, 892 Finnegan Road at County Route 35, has certified traditional, compact and dwarf varieties that come in pink, white, magenta, cream, and purple and that range in size when mature from three feet to 14 feet. Some are sporadic repeat bloomers, which allows a sprig or two of lilac to delight the nose throughout the summer.

“This is the first year we’re selling,” Mrs. Westerling said. “We have 150-some plants for sale.”

After Mr. Westerling retired in 2005 as vice president of hospital relations at Canton-Potsdam Hospital, he and his wife, who works in the chemistry department at SUNY Potsdam, bought a country home and eventually turned part of it into a bed and breakfast.

The lilacs in front are original to the home. Eventually, the couple plans to turn part of their yard into a lilac walk where visitors can see the different varieties that are available.

The stock comes from Syringa Plus north of Boston, known for its true-to-name lilacs propagated from softwood cuttings. Mr. and Mrs. Westerling are trying their hand at propagation as well.

“Lilacs don’t root easily,” Mr. Westerling said. “We said we’d try it. It’s something we enjoy.”

Prices range from $12 to $36. The nursery is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays in May. Other times are available by appointment by calling 265-1630.

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