To most gardeners lilac is lilac and they have little thought beyond having a white or a lilac-coloured one.
However there are a number of species and a lot of cultivars from which to choose. One of the important factors may be size. Some are relatively small getting no bigger than 60cm (2ft) and are thus suitable for the smallest of gardens. Other grow into trees but even these rarely get above 3-4m (10-12 ft) and are relatively slim-line so they take up little space.
Very few lilacs are grown for their foliage, which while not unattractive has few outstanding merits. They are grown for their flowers which appear in early summer, and in particular for their very distinctive fragrance.
The colour is basically lilac, but varying to almost red and purple at one extreme and pink and white at the other. There are even some creamy yellow forms. The problem with the white and cream forms is that the flowers can look ugly when they fade to brown. One way round this is to dead-head them if you have the time.
Generally, however, not much pruning is required. They can be grown best in neutral to alkaline soils, but prefer them to be fertile. Plant in full sun.