Posts Tagged deciduous magnolias

Magnolia Season

Ashe Magnolia beginnings and endings

Ashe Magnolia beginnings and endings

I freely admit that I think our native deciduous magnolias are very special trees. Yes, I love the drama of our evergreen Southern Magnolias as much as the next person, but the big-leaved deciduous magnolias provide even higher theater for those willing to accommodate their needs.

Ashe Magnolia bud

Ashe Magnolia bud unfurling

I took all these pictures of my Ashe Magnolia today. This relatively small, somewhat lop-sided tree blooms for weeks — blooms on top of blooms, as you can see from the first photo. And the blooms are enormous, as are its leaves. As soon as the buds begin to open, the flower’s perfume scents the air. I can’t imagine a blooming tree with more wow factor than Ashe Magnolia.

Fading Ashe Magnolia flower

Fading Ashe Magnolia flower

As the flowers fade, piles of spent stamens collect on the petals. And, oh yes, the perfume still sings.

Nearly done Ashe Magnolia flower

Nearly done Ashe Magnolia flower

As the seed cone grows, ivory petals turn parchment brown, eventually falling to the ground, stamens tumbling after.

I sited my thriving Ashe Magnolia on the north-facing side of my yard inside a deer-fenced area beneath tall canopy trees that give it ample shade. It likes soil moisture, so I planted it on the bottom of the slope. After pampering it for a year, I’ve done nothing except admire this amazing tree. Late freezes have knocked it back several times, but it just resprouts and continues to bloom more spectacularly every year. Oh, how I love this tree!

Bigleaf Magnolia bud

Bigleaf Magnolia bud

But wait — there’s more big-leafed news. My Magnolia macrophylla, Bigleaf Magnolia, is about to explode into bloom even as its smaller cousin, Ashe Magnolia, continues its display. Our Bigleaf Magnolia is now about 25 feet tall, and the flower buds are way over my head, so forgive me for these less-than-optimal photos. However, you do get a sense of the scale of the leaves of this mighty Magnolia, and the size of the buds relative to the leaves. These leaves grow longer than the length of my arm every year, providing a somewhat tropical look to my landscape.

Another Bigleaf flower

Another Bigleaf flower

I can see at least 15 flower buds on the Bigleaf Magnolia, and I suspect there are more too high for me to easily see. The flowers are opening quickly, thanks to the onset of our summer heat. I don’t think they’ll last long, given that we haven’t had a decent rain in four weeks. But for now, I will stand beneath this growing beauty admiring the blossoms and leaves, and inhaling the fragrance. Aroma therapy at its best.

Southern Magnolia flowers just beginning to pop open.

Southern Magnolia flowers just beginning to pop open.

Not to be outdone by her deciduous big-leaved sisters, my Southern Magnolia is about to explode into her own floral display. My tree is 50 feet tall, and I don’t even want to try to count how many flower buds it has. For certain, as our air humidifies and heats up later this week, I know every sultry morning will be heavy with the perfume of her blooms. Flowers of Southern Magnolia are not as large as those of her deciduous sisters, but she produces more petals per bloom, creating her own kind of floral drama. As the flowers open, this tree will hum with day-long visits from my neighbor’s honeybees.

Southern Magnolia and her big-leaved sisters signal Summer's arrival.

Southern Magnolia and her big-leaved sisters signal Summer’s arrival.

Here’s hoping your Memorial Day holiday is as sweet as mine promises to be.

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The Payoff

A hybrid of native deciduous azaleas

A hybrid of native deciduous azaleas

Anyone who tells you gardening is easy is lying to you — at least if you garden with any seriousness. It is hard work to plan, plant, water, feed, weed, mulch, prune, harvest, etc. And when you do it on five acres as I do, it is very hard work.

A close-up of the same azalea's flowers

A close-up of the same azalea’s flowers

Ah, but then spring comes, the yard greens, rainbow flower colors burst forth from every corner of the yard as birds and frogs sing love songs — and that’s the payoff. Best of all, when I do things right and the weather gods are kind, my sweat equity pays off bigger every year. Blooming azaleas grow larger and more spectacular, deciduous magnolias hold fragrant blooms aloft to scent the air and lure pollinators. The beauty is almost overwhelming. Seriously, sometimes I just have to sit down and mutter “Wow!”

A view of the north slope garden.

A view of the north slope garden.

I knew that prolonged heavy rains were arriving mid-day here today, so I spent an hour or so this morning wandering around my yard taking photos and paying compliments to all my green charges who repay my efforts so enthusiastically every year.

Frasier magnolia flower buds

Fraser magnolia flower buds

The shots so far are all from the acre of north slope we’ve enclosed within a deer fence. Here my blooming woody beauties grow unmolested.

Rhododendron alabamensis is just beginning to open its flowers.

Rhododendron alabamense is just beginning to open its flowers.

All of my deciduous magnolias are unfurling their leaves and revealing their flower buds. I think the Fraser magnolia may just beat the Ashe magnolia in the first-to-bloom contest.

Magnolia ashei flower bud

Magnolia ashei flower bud

My latest big-leaf magnolia species addition is Magnolia pyramidata. I planted it last March. It is tiny, but so were the others when I planted them some years ago. When I see the small new magnolia just unfurling its leaves, I can look to its magnolia cousins for the payoff a few years of patience will bring.

The key to keeping this new addition happy will be weeding out intruders.

The key to keeping this new addition happy will be weeding out intruders.

I can’t resist offering a few more views from the north slope garden.

Pinxterbloom azalea

Alabama azalea in foreground; pinxterbloom azalea down slope

Ashe magnolia in foreground; Viburnum 'Shasta' in back

Ashe magnolia in foreground; Viburnum ‘Shasta’ in back

New leaves are also lovely in their own right.

New leaves of the deciduous Dawn Redwood

New leaves of the deciduous Dawn Redwood

New leaves of deciduous False Larch

New leaves of deciduous False Larch

The greening of the floodplain forest across our creek.

The greening of the floodplain forest across our creek.

Although I can’t take credit for planting the myriad, multiplying wildflowers that grace the wetland on and adjacent to our five acres, I can take credit for appreciating it, encouraging it, and lavishing it with compliments when it begins its spring display.

Jack-in-the-Pulpits preach to their swamp brethren.

Jack-in-the-Pulpits preach to their swamp brethren.

Cinnamon ferns tower over Atamasco lilies just beginning to bloom.

Cinnamon ferns tower over Atamasco lilies just beginning to bloom.

Lizard's tails emerge over more muddy territory every year. When they bloom, plumes of white dance across the floodplain.

Lizard’s tails emerge over more muddy territory every year. When they bloom, plumes of white dance across the floodplain.

The Mayapple mob is abloom while the Bladdernuts above drop spent flowers on their lobed leaves.

The Mayapple mob is abloom while the Bladdernuts above drop spent flowers on their lobed leaves.

One of my additions to this breathtakingly healthy wetland is a Red Buckeye.

The entire Red Buckeye tree

The entire Red Buckeye tree

A flower-laden branch of the Red Buckeye

A flower-laden branch of the Red Buckeye

This close-up of a Red Buckeye inflorescence  shows the tubular flowers that draw hummingbirds every spring.

This close-up of a Red Buckeye inflorescence shows the tubular flowers that draw hummingbirds every spring.

I took 171 pictures today. Not all of them were great, but even so, I think this is enough for one post. Soon I must update you on the vegetable garden. Much is happening there. And other parts of the yard are also in full, glorious flower. Truly, I am blessed with an embarrassment of botanical riches. But as I count my blessings, I remind myself that I had a lot to do with the beauty that now surrounds me. All the sore muscles, the sweat, the dirt, and yes, the bug bites are all worth this annual payoff — a payoff that grows larger and more wonderful every year.

Eastern Columbines have staged a takeover of the bed beside my greenhouse.

Eastern Columbines have staged a takeover of the bed beside my greenhouse.

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