Like a firework, it burst into my view so unexpectedly that I let out an exclamation. A blossom of the purest white, enhanced by being in a beam of morning sunlight, and intricate as a lotus blossom. My first magnolia flower!!
It is nestled (I have a new appreciation for this word!) in a bowl of glossy green leaves, like a bird in a nest. I have never seen a flower so perfect, each rounded petal flawless, forming a cup of pure pearly white. And in the center, a cluster of many pistils and stamens topped by curly golden stigmas.
Does the name magnolia come from the word magnificent? Words fail me to describe this flower. I never thought I, a mere mortal, could grow a flower this complex and beautiful. And if that weren't enough, it emits a subtle, sweet scent. (Actually, the plant was named after a French botanist named Pierre Magnol. I like my theory better.)
This flowering is the sweeter for the struggle my magnolia tree (Magnolia grandiflora 'Bracken's Beauty') has overcome. I planted it just about a year ago, and worried about its hardiness, though this cultivar is rated to Zone 6.Well, it made it through our unusually mild winter--it wasn't really put to the test. But by early spring it was sprinkled with fungal leaf spots.
I sprayed it carefully with a liquid copper fungicide from Bonide (for organic gardening www.bonide.com). The tree looked sad for about a week, the spray having dulled the usually shiny leaves. Then it began to perk up. A few of the most heavily infected leaves fell off, but new growth was emerging.
This spring the new growth has been generous, glossy and healthy. And my little tree has formed four urn-shaped, fuzzy flower buds. After plumping to about 3 inches, the first blossom dropped its furry cover to reveal a tight bud of creamy white.
Until now, when the open blossom caught me by surprise. So far it is the only one to open. I can't wait for each of the others.
Happy Fourth of July, and my apologies to Katy Perry.
Tags: Katy Perry, Pierre Magnol, liquid copper fungicide, Bonide, fungal leaf spot, fungus, Magnolia grandiflora 'Bracken's Beauty', Magnolia grandiflora