Saturday, April 9, 2011

Magnolia mothers & daughters

We have two of the largest, most wonderful a Magnolia grandiflora in almost opposite corners of our backyard.  While certainly the same kind of tree, they are obviously not from the same cutting:  they bloom on slightly different schedules (one always a week or so later than the other & somehow finished sooner), when they first emerge their buds are dramatically different shapes (one looks just as yo would expect, the other is long & narrow like a cigarette & thickens to a more bulb shape over a few days).  They are so big & so healthy that on a hot humid afternoon you can sit between them & feel the fragrance hanging over you like a curtain.  They are wonderful.

In the fall, they produce large prickly seed pods with very dramatic red, red seeds.  I used to hurl them into the no-man's-land between our front yard & the road (a space about 16' wide we let grow wild so we have some barrier from the dust of the road).  Over the years I have tossed many things in there & as a result we have quite a a mixture that more or less does just fine.  I mentioned once to a more experienced gardener that was doing this & he told me it would never work.  The seeds need to be soaked, et cetera et cetera & it was more work than I was interested in especially once he said it was unlikely any of the seeds had been fertilized anyhow (in his defense he had never been to my house & I am not sure I mentioned I had two adult, almost-adjacent trees).  So I stopped doing this about five years ago, after doing it for seven or so years in a rather haphazard way with no discernible results. 

Did you know it takes up to fifteen years for Magnolia grandiflora to flower for the first time?  & in an undergrowth of young cedars, virginia creeper, varieties of sumac & mimosa, not to mention an airy but thorough ground cover of ferns along with various other take-a-chance plants, it can be hard to catch  sight of those signature leaves, especially if you are not looking for them.

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