I’ve worked at my current employment site for over 11 years now, and it took me an entire decade to discover that they had a southern magnolia (magnolia grandiflora) tucked away in an obscure area that doesn’t get much foot traffic. I saw this tree for the first time last year — long after it’s normal blooming season — so I’ve been eagerly waiting for the blossoms to pop again this year. Which they did just a few days ago.
When the last hard frost hit us so close to the blooming period of all the other trees and plants, I thought for sure that these would be destroyed as well. As it happens, a lot of the blossoms on this tree did get taken out by the hard freeze, but the rest have begun emerging and they are glorious! The scent that wafts around the tree is heavenly and the blooms are truly a wonder to see. One thing I did find intriguing is the speed of the blooming cycle; the very first bloom on the tree began opening this past Wednesday, and two days later it was pretty much done.
This is only the second southern magnolia I recall seeing up close and personal; they aren’t native to our area and are sparsely represented until one travels to South Carolina and as far south as mid-Florida. Cindy says that she’s seen a bunch of them to the southeast of the DC region within the Maryland boundaries, but I simply don’t remember.
The only other southern magnolia I can confirm seeing was a magnificent 40-foot tall specimen in the central courtyard of the Reynolds Metals Company headquarters in Richmond, Virginia. I worked there as a part-time graphic artist between 1981 and 1983, and again as a graphics supervisor between 1985 and 1987 — during which I always enjoyed seeing the spring blooms arrive on that tree.