First, but not the last

After several very mild days, the earliest of the magnolias have quickly burst into bloom. Buds of ‘Merrill’ (Magnolia x loebneri ‘Merrill’, below) were cracking open on the weekend, and a few warm days have pushed it quickly into flower. ‘Merrill’ is always first to flower in this garden, beginning thirty feet up and working down, and today it is flowering top to bottom, nearly at its peak.

Whenever I look to see the uppermost blooms I recall the sad day several years ago when the top half of the magnolia broke in a summer storm. Whatever fears I had, this is now a reminder not to fret much about such damage since it was barely evident a few years later, and now I cannot even tell where the break was.

Royal Star is several days behind Merrill in flowering, but it is now a third into bloom.

‘Merrill’ and the later flowering, pale yellow ‘Elizabeth’ tower over the garden, while ‘Royal Star’ (Magnolia stellata ‘Royal Star’, above) and the purple flowered ‘Jane’ (Magnolia x ‘Jane’, below) are shorter and more wide spreading. ‘Yellow Bird’ (Magnolia acuminata ‘Yellow Bird’) is another tall grower, but it is recently planted so it’s barely over head high. ‘Jane’ and ‘Yellow Bird’ are next to flower, perhaps by week’s end, and I expect that ‘Yellow Bird’ will be much yellower than the almost cream colored ‘Elizabeth’ (below).

Jane magnolia flowers a few weeks later than Royal Star and Dr. Merrill, with blooms less susceptible to late freezes.
Elizabeth magnolia

The towering white flowered Bigleaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla, below) flowers late in May, though it appears that the last of the low hanging branches has perished in deep shade, so unfortunately flowers will be seen only at a distance. But, the benefit of the higher branch canopy is that a serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis) and several oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) now have plenty of headroom for growth, with hellebores and summer snowflakes (Leucojum aestivum) carpeting the ground.

I am anxious to see if the evergreen banana shrub (Magnolia figo ‘Hagiwara Everblooming’) purchased in early winter will flower at such a small size, and while it is now potted and sitting on the patio beside the koi pond, I have a few ideas where it might be planted since it’s a smaller grower. With more space there are another dozen magnolias that I’d love to plant, but I don’t think my wife was serious when she suggested purchasing the neighbor’s property and bulldozing the house.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Bonnie C. says:

    I love Star magnolias & have a magnificent one (pink-centered, but variety unknown) that I picked up at the Culpeper Lowe’s from their “TLC” corner for a mere $11 (original price twice or triple that) about 15 years ago. It’s now about two stories tall & has a wonderful fragrance. My only regret about it is that it so very frequently blooms way too early, thus the blooms end up browned & gone before we can enjoy it. This year we’re managing to enjoy half the blooms, as just the first wave got caught in the last recent freezing temps.

    1. Dave says:

      Royal Star and Merrill are flowering now, with buds cracking on Jane. Temperatures this weekend might get cold enough to damage opened flowers, but the other magnolias are likely to flower after the next blast of cold. This is a benefit of this garden being cold tempered.

  2. Bridget says:

    Always try and buy the house next door when it comes up for sale! An old real estate truism. Love the photos.. Such elegance.

  3. rubiescorner says:

    These flowers are absolutely, beautiful. I paint flowers as a hobby. It takes time to get the details. I believe they are so awesome.

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