Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Magnolias (not of the "steel" variety)

Magnolias are flowering trees that have been in cultivation for hundreds of years. I am reminded of how large they actually grow when the mature trees overwhelm us with those large, supple, almost edible blossoms each spring .  AND the fragrance permeates the air with a light, sweet aroma.

Here's a little lecture on several varieties growing at Mohonk.

Magnolia lennei

 
Magnolia lennei 
A hybrid of the original saucer magnolia with a more lily-like shape developed in 1853 . This one has darker outer petals* that eventually fade as the flowers mature. 






Magnolia 'Betty'


Magnolia 'Betty'
A hybrid with the species liliflora, developed in the 1950's.  'Betty' has a more lily-like shape, with very dark purple buds that open to orchid-purple blooms.  







Magnolia 'Elizabeth'
The first of the yellow hybrids introduced in 1977—not named for a queen or cosmetics mogul, but a benefactor from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden where it was hybridized. ‘Elizabeth’ has upward facing, pale lemon yellow flowers that bloom later in the season than the first two varieties. 

Magnolia 'Elizabeth'
Magnolia 'Elizabeth'



Magnolia 'Butterflies'

Magnolia 'Butterflies'
A popular recent introduction in 1991. We hope to acquire one soon, but I managed to take a picture of ‘Butterflies’ from a local estate just off the mountain.  Exemplified with darker yellow flowers, the plants are described as "loaded with butterflies" when in blossom.








Magnolia 'Judy Zuk'
 


Magnolia 'Judy Zuk'
 ‘Judy Zuk’ is a very recent acquisition as of 2008. Newly introduced in 2005, it is another yellow variety from BBG.  This one starts off gold, then matures to a butter yellow with darts of purple at the base of the bloom. Ours was a gift and it claims prime real estate at the end of the long arbor.







*Magnolias don't actually have petals. Since the sepals (bud covers) and petals look alike, the botanists have proclaimed them tepals (as with tulips).

Friday, May 6, 2011

First Anniversary

This week marks one year of blogging for Mohonk Mountain House (horticulturally speaking). I hope you've enjoyed the journey as much as I have. It’s always good to look back at all the happenings (because I forget so much these days).

So, on this special day I can only default to my obsession with white flowers. Last weekend in the afterglow of the royal wedding I found myself, yet again, in Litchfied snapping shots of white narcissi at White Flower Farm. I'm looking for inspiration for new plantings in our white border. These triandus types are quite stunning and will make a nice addition next spring.

White narcissi

White narcissi

… and for a short while, we albaphiles get to enjoy the soft white of the yoshino cherry trees. Sometimes the best way to showcase these blooms is to look up into them as we have here. Our trees are young, but lovely nonetheless.

Yoshino cherry tree
Yoshino cherry tree

So remember, white flowers are timeless and classic. The finest gardens in England all have white gardens.

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