Starry-eyed over Magnolia stellata
We have two varieties of magnolia in the walled garden here. One is Magnolia stellata, the other is Magnolia something-elsa. (Lord, I am not worthy to be the custodian of this garden.) The one that isn’t stellata is a huge old climber that grows up the castle wall; it has to be pruned regularly or it would happily have grown over the roof by now. It’s absolutely beautiful and is already in bud, hurrayhurray, so I will no doubt be showing some photos of it before long.
The Magnolia stellata or star magnolia, on the other hand, is flowering now. After the scarlet Rhododendron barbatum, it’s the first really spectacular flowering of the year.
These great waxy blooms seem so exotic, so seductive, so unlikely, in a cool grey Scottish spring.
Even their fragrance seems out of place, with a velvety orientalism that reminds me of the frangipani blossoms which used to drop onto our lawn when I was a girl in Singapore.
To my mind, the more typical flowers of a British spring – the daffodils, violets, primulas and little blue scilla – are the essential markers of the season. In bleak February it is these I most look forward to, not the more voluptuous charms of the magnolia. Nonetheless, the flowering of the magnolias is a special event in the garden calendar, and the sight of these extraordinary blooms is always a thrill. Do they grow in your part of the world?
For more garden ignorance, see My Hysteria grandiflora is coming along nicely.