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This was Brownie Castle prior to its unfortunate demolition in 2016!

Liliac Named Derby's Official Bush!

On Thursday, May 13, 2004 (Derby's 329th birthday!) the Board of Aldermen named the French Lilac the official bush of the City of Derby. See the information below to find out why.


When warm weather arrives,  with it comes an array of beautiful spring shrubs and flowers. One of the loveliest and most fragrant is the Lilac which blossoms in May.

The story of the Lilac bush in the United States is a first for Derby, in fact, it's a Connecticut first. Dr. John Durand, a French Huguenot physician came to Derby about 1680. He purchased a house on Academy Hill now known to Derbyites as Brownie Castle. The house was supposedly built by Samuel Bowers, the son of one of Derby's first ministers. It is one of the oldest houses in Derby.

Derby was sparsely settled with only a few families. It was mostly wilderness. Dr. Durand missed the fragrant Lilac shrubs that grew in France, and upon making a return voyage back to France, he returned with a large number of Lilac roots which he planted on the grounds around his home. Thus, the first French Lilac bushes appeared in the United States. All of Dr. Durand's descendants were said to have the loveliest Lilac bushes surrounding their homes.

Dr. Durand is buried in the Olde Uptown Burial Ground.

The Encyclopedia Americana says that the most common and widely cultivated of the Lilac bushes in the United States is the French Lilac.

This quiz contributed by Joan Driscoll


We have a lot more people who know their flowers than their baseball parks because the following people knew the answer to the question:

  • Randy Ritter

  • Mark Anthony Izzo

  • Marsha Pettingill

  • Mary Lou Boroski

  • Mayor Marc Garofalo

  • Sal Coppola

In addition to those individuals, Dina Weismann knew the flower and Wendi Kowarik knew the name of the building. Mayor Garofalo also informed us that the lilac may soon be designated as Derby's official flower.

To see our earlier quizzes and learn more about Derby's unique history, click here.

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