I have loved magnolia trees as long as I can remember. My childhood home was next door to a school yard lined with these magnificent trees. Along with making mud pies and play dishes out of hydrangea leaves, I loved to play under magnolia shade, breathing the fragrance of giant creamy white blooms centered with honey colored pollen that drew the attention of bees and inventing infinite ways to play with the cones and scarlet seeds which remained when petals fell off. Sometimes we cut a bloom to float in a bowl of water inside, being careful not to touch or brown the petals which were each bigger than my hand.
When our boys were young, our family loved living for awhile in an old Victorian house that had a huge magnolia tree in the front yard. I could lean from the second story porch to breathe in the unique fragrance when it bloomed.
Some years later would find us living far from the magnolias of Texas, in Indonesia. There, in the palace gardens of Bogor, I found a magnolia tree! Although I visited there a number of times, I never saw it bloom. I thought perhaps that tree, like me, survived but did not thrive so far from home. Later I learned that magnolias are considered native to Southeast Asia as well as the Southern U.S. but that older trees which are moved do not do well because their roots are different from many trees so moving is hard on them.
Now, once more I have a magnolia tree in my yard, and treat myself to bringing one bloom inside. A magnolia bloom declines quickly, but its color and texture draw me in a new way as the snowy layers turn to ivory, then soft peach, sepia, and finally look like caramel colored leather or suede.
What a beautiful post. There is a new book out, Paper Garden by the poet, Molly Peacock. In the review in the NY Times, there is a picture of a magnolia that Mary Delany made in the 1800’s with paper and scissors. It is beautiful and reminded me of you and this post. Find the review here:
I have been admiring this very book, Sonja! These days I try to find a book in the public library before I click “buy”, but this seems to be one which would be lovely to own. Mary Delany must have been a remarkable woman, and Iove Molly Peacock’s poetry.