Some time ago I bought three small Syringa (Lilac) plants from a very large mail order company – who shall remain anonymous. When they arrived the plants were scrawny little sticks. Unsurprisingly (but disappointedly) one succumbed the first winter but the other two have eventually grown fairly well.
However flowering is patchy in the extreme. The light lilac flowered a little this year but the purple one insisted on only flowering on the side facing our neighbour’s garden (perversely facing north) – I meant to ask them what it looked like!
The moral is probably order at the beginning of the season and get plants from small specialist nurseries rather than multinational behemoths. However I do intend to enjoy the flowers on the odd occasion when I manage to see them!