March 23, 2012

Plant of the month: Magnolia stellata

I’m breaking some rules here. But it’s OK because the rules are rather informal, and they’re rules I set for myself. I’d planned to highlight only plants from my own garden in these monthly “plant of the month” posts. Instead, I’m focusing this time on a tree I wish I had a place for: Magnolia stellata.



I’ve always had a thing for Magnolias of all species—they signify sweet transitions for me. Perhaps it’s because they were in glorious full bloom on the perfect May day I graduated from college. Is that possible? Yes, I remember it very clearly. Are they blooming early this year? Apparently. The Morton Arboretum lists the normal bloom time for M. stellata in the Chicago area (about 80 miles south of here) as mid-April. That’s another rule I’m breaking: posting about a plant that normally doesn’t bloom here in this month.

I’m also pretty sure the species blooming on my graduation day was a saucer or tulip type Magnolia—possibly M. soulangiana or M. sargentiana—both of which peak a little later in the season (although they’re starting to bloom here now, too). It was south of here, though—at the Iowa state capitol building. M. stellata is a star Magnolia.

Magnolias, which are among the most ancient groups of flowering plants, include a multitude of species worldwide. But I couldn’t pin down the actual number. I must have checked about 20 sources, and the number of Magnolia species ranged from 80 to 240. Unfortunately, many of them are endangered, which is a shame because they’re awe-inspiring.

M. stellata broke bud here last Sunday, and rains and winds since then have caused some petal drop. But not before I had a chance to capture the magic of the transition.












I’m taking a short break from blogging for a week. Not because I don’t want to do it, but because it’s good to take breaks from all tasks—even those we enjoy. I’ll be practicing some photography skills, and hopefully I’ll have some fun shots to share on the other side. “See” you in April!

22 comments:

  1. That is an - are you sitting comfortably? good, then I'll tell you a story! - post. A fairy tale, from Once upon a time, to what German says so much better. And if they haven't died, then they are alive today! So much more vitality than the plodding English - and they all lived happily ever after.

    Thanks for this beauty, especially the furry pussy willow style buds.

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    1. Thanks, Diana. I agree--the buds are amazing on their own, and then you add the amazing unfolding flowers and it's just magic.

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  2. Spectacular! Magnolias are one of my favorites too! I just put in a star magnolia and it is heavenly...the smell lingers throughout my garden. The Southerner in me thinks every garden should have at least one magnolia :)

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    1. Oh, lucky you! I must be a bit of a Southern Girl wannabe because I'm such a big fan of Magnolias. And I love the scent, too!

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  3. The amazing Magnolia! Beautiful photos! Have a nice week!
    Happy Spring!
    Mindy

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    1. Thank you, Mindy! So much beauty around us this time of year and so much gardening to do--I'm not sure whether to pick up a shovel or a camera!

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  4. Oh, I agree with you about magnolias. If I had the right place for one, I would have one, too. Such beautiful trees. I love your sequence photos. Have a fun break!

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    1. Thanks, Holley. I'm re-evaluating this decision. There are some smaller shrub varieties--maybe I can find a spot! ;-)

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  5. Happy break to you Beth...I love magnolia trees in bloom..they are blooming here already and looking stunning!!

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    1. Thanks, Donna! I'm finding it's a good thing to take a week off--now I can't wait to get back. I think Magnolias are beautiful in all stages, but especially when the buds are breaking!

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    1. Thank you! They're such beautiful flowers/trees, but the blooms are so short-lived. I was so thrilled to capture them at just the right time!

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  7. Gorgeous!! I'd love to have this one too. I only have 'Jane' and she struggles here. You are so far ahead of us, it's amazing. What a crazy weather year. Happy Spring!

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    1. I'll have to look up info on 'Jane'! This is the weirdest Wisconsin March I can remember. It's always a kooky month, but this one is totally not "normal" for us. I hope spring kicks into gear for you soon!

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  8. Beautiful images, Beth! I'd love to find a good place for one of these at my house as well. I also have a fondness for magnolias, as we had one of the tulip types at our old house, where we spent most of our married life. This year the magnolias here began blooming as soon as the redbuds did!

    Enjoy your break!

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    1. Thanks, Rose! I'm sort of glad the weather cooled down a bit to hold the spring blooms a little longer. I hope you can find a nice spot for a Magnoiia at your new place!

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  9. Such beautiful images Beth. I love the detail in your macro shots. Magnolias here got nipped in the bud unfortunately. Our weather turned and the petals dropped.

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    1. Thank you, Donna. Apparently we were just shy of a freeze here while I was gone. So all the blooms--including Magnolias--didn't change much from when I left. I worry about the next few nights, though...

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  10. Lovely series of shots and great idea for a post. I like the furry jackets that magnolia blooms emerge from .... Enjoy your week playing with the camera!

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    1. Thanks, Sheila! We had a great time in New Orleans and I took way too many photos. I could do about 10 posts about the Crescent City. Everything grows like crazy down there! :)

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  11. Fantastic photos of a beautiful tree. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Mary. Yeah, it's one of my favorites. I almost feel sad that it's finished blooming for the year. There are still other varieties of Magnolia around town yet to bloom, so I'll have to do a tour. :)

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