Wednesday, June 01, 2016


Being able to walk in the mornings is such a blessing. Rain, early appointments, and being out of town have made my walks in the park less than routine, but last week I did make it over one morning.  And one of the wonderful parts of this park is that there are magnolias planted all up and down the streets on either side of the park.

Which means lots of shade to walk in when it's hot. And perfect trees for climbing when young friends are visiting. And the fun of pretending you're in your own little world while walking under the really huge trees, who branches touch the ground and form spacious little rooms where you are hidden from view.

And at this time of year, it means blossoms. Huge, white wonderful blossoms.

And it means the scent of those blossoms. With roses and gardenias, magnolias have the power to make you want nothing other than to stand still and keep your nose near their aromatic selves. At the park there are different varieties of the trees, so the scents are not all the same, but they are all lovely. 

When I lived in Croatia, there was a kind of tree with pretty big pink blossoms. I asked what it was and was told it was a magnolia. I thought that was interesting, because it was not at all like the magnolias over here.

What I didn't realize then was that we do have magnolias like that over here. And that they actually are related. But at that point in my life, all I knew, all i had ever seen, was the southern magnolia.

And as pretty as those pink blossoms are, I must admit that if I could have only one kind of magnolia, I would want the southern magnolia.

There's just nothing else like them.

I have vague memories from childhood of seeing them at this stage and being a little confused, because they reminded me of bananas....

Even the leaves are lovely. They almost look like flowers themselves when you see groups of them silhouetted against the sky this way. 

I read that they are some of the oldest trees, going back to a time before bees existed. That reach back into time seems right to me, because they conjure up for me early memories of my grandparents' house. The one in the front yard of that house was, I suppose, the first magnolia tree I ever knew up close. A wonderful hiding place, a good climbing place, a cool tent of shade on a hot day.

Now I have a whole bunch of them. And they may be old, but they never get old.

I'm thinking I'll have to get over there tomorrow and enjoy that scent again....maybe even celebrate my ever-improving foot by climbing a branch or two.



Mike S. Allen said...

There used to be a couple of big magnolia trees in the open area across from Harbin Hall. Loved climbing them (and even reading in them) as a kid. Thanks for the post, Sheila!

Sheila said...

Oh, I bet that made a great reading place!

Lucy said...

These photos are incredibly beautiful, but so is your description of the trees.

Those pink or sometimes white magnolias we have here in Europe flower very early in the spring. They are very lovely, especially against old stonework. I don't think they have a lot of perfume. We do have these big, waxy summer flowering ones, which must be your southern ones, but they never get so big and grand as you describe, or flower so luxuriantly.