Margaret Joan Florals Kilcoyne Lilac Farm

The timeless, swoon-worthy lilac is the symbol of spring — in gardens, vases, and couture

            The best way to celebrate springtime is by inhaling the intoxicating fragrance of lilacs, known in Latin as Syringa vulgaris. Kilcoyne Lilac Farm in California’s Antelope Valley, about 50 miles north of Los Angeles, is a bucolic place owned and cared for by Elizabeth and Dennis Kilcoyne. They cultivate more than 3,000 lilac plants on their 10-acre farm, making it truly a sight to behold when thousands of tiny, lavender-hued florets burst into bloom, their plump clusters ranging in hues from pure white and pale pink to lavender, periwinkle, and plum.

Kilcoyne Lilacs

            The year-round attention Elizabeth lavishes on her special plants pays off in early April when the farm plays host to a wild, three-week lilac harvest period. With her small crew, Elizabeth cuts and bunches up thousands of fragrant stems for eager fans. Depending on the volume of each year’s harvest, she sells the bodacious blooms at local farmers’ markets, through wholesale florists in Los Angeles, and to the many visitors who make the drive to Kilcoyne Lilac Farm — just to bring home a nostalgic armload of local lilacs.

Margaret Joan Florals Kilcoyne Lilac Farm American Flowers Week

            Santa Barbara-based floral designer Margaret Lloyd, owner of Margaret Joan Florals, is a lilac devotee who in the past has purchased bunches of Kilcoyne-grown lilacs at her area farmers’ market. A rare find in Southern California, she knows how truly special these flowers are.
            “I want to inspire April brides to consider a lilac bouquet,” she says. “I just love the scent of lilac and if I was getting married in the spring, I would want to carry an all-lilac bouquet.”
Wearing an all-lilac dress is another aspiration altogether. When we invited Margaret and Elizabeth to collaborate, they were immediately intrigued and they combined talents to plan a spring photo shoot featuring a model wearing a lilac frock in a grove of lilac trees.
            Margaret and Elizabeth kept an eye on the bloom calendar and zeroed in on early April for fabricating and photographing the garment for American Flowers Week. Elizabeth previously worked in the fashion industry as a pattern-maker before retiring early to raise children and become a flower farmer, so she offered to transform Margaret’s concept and construct a top and skirt as the base garment.

Inspiration board ideas

            Margaret’s idea was to to recall old California and the region’s cowboy culture. “This is sort of a make-believe story from a Hollywood Western,” she jokes.”If Hollywood wanted to make a cowgirl more sexy, they would create this flirty outfit.”
            Styling and storytelling were important to the designer who gathered Western-style accessories, including short boots, a white-brimmed hat, and a leather belt with silver details. She knew her model Jocelyn Kaylene, with whom she’d worked in the past, would effortlessly pull off the look.
            Lilac isn’t known for lasting long out of water, so Margaret worked quickly over one-and-one-half days. When she arrived at Kilcoyne Lilac Farm, the lilacs were cut and hydrated, ready to transform into a wearable fashion.
            “I cut the flowers into little, workable pieces and then dropped them into a half-inch of water in the bottom of a plastic bin. The short pieces kept drinking water until I started gluing them to the garment,” she explains. “Next, I flattened one side of each piece — the side I would glue to the fabric.”
            Margaret used a combination of Oasis cold glue and spray adhesive to cover the two-piece dress with lilac bits. She used white lilac florets for the shoulder-flattering blouse and paired several of Elizabeth’s favorite plum and dark purple varieties to create the flared skirt. Smaller lilac pieces around the waist and hips ensured a flattering fit, while fuller clusters form the pointed, asymmetrical hem that Margaret describes as a “Tinker Bell” style.

Margaret Joan Florals Kilcoyne Lilac Farm

I just love the scent of lilac and if I was getting married in the spring, I would want to carry an all-lilac bouquet.”

margaret lloyd, margaret joan florals

            When Margaret designs wedding flowers she works with couples to help relate their personality and story through flowers. In a similar way, she used Elizabeth’s lilacs to help tell Kilcoyne Lilac Farm’s story of place, season and bloom. “These lilacs are Elizabeth’s babies. She calls them by their names and her farm is a place of pride, a place that is nurtured.”
            The fleeting lilac season offers a glimpse into the rare beauty of a single cherished flower, reimagined as fashion.

Creative Team:
Floral Palette:
 California-grown lilacs from Kilcoyne Lilac Farm,, @kilcoynelilacfarm
Designer: Margaret Lloyd, Margaret Joan Florals,,
Model: Jocelyn Kaylene, @jocelynkaylene
Hair/Makeup: Jocelyn Kaylene
Photography: Lerina Winter, Lerina Winter Photography,, @jocelynkaylene; Danny Miles, Danny Miles Photography, @dannyinthewoods
Location: Kilcoyne Lilac Farm, Acton, California