The yellow magnolia

On Sunday the blooms of the pale yellow flowered ‘Elizabeth’ magnolia (Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’, below) were perfection. By some confluence of circumstances nearly every flower arrived at once so that the tree went from nearly bare to full bloom, probably within hours though I was not watching at the time. From Saturday evening to Sunday morning the transformation occurred, and happily I was able to wander past several times on Sunday while working in the garden, and then again through the early week.Elizabeth magnolia in mid April

On some afternoons the yellow flowers seem barely so, and would be best considered a creamy white, but on this day the blooms were clearly pale yellow, and marvelous. ‘Elizabeth’ is often listed as our native Cucumber magnolia (Magnolia acuminata), but instead it is a cross between cucumber and Yulan magnolias (Magnolia denudata), if that matters. The fruit that follows flowering is similar but slightly smaller than on the cucumber tree, and so the confusion is inevitable. In any case, it is a hybrid and should not be considered as a native tree, though it is exceptional and any garden is the better for having included one.Flowers of Elizabeth magnolia after a freeze

Predictably, after two nights of freezes, the blooms have collapsed into a heap of brown mush (above). In a more typical spring the flowers might open over a period of a week, so some would be injured by frost while others would be unscathed, but the spell of extreme warm days last week pushed the buds to open all at once, and here we are. There will be no lasting effect from the damage to the blooms, and by next week the brown flowers will have dropped and been forgotten.

A brief walk this afternoon has revealed little other damage to the garden from the two night’s freezes, though I continue to be saddened to find evergreens that have suffered considerably from the long and harsh winter. An aged dwarf hemlock has turned completely brown, with all branches showing brown beneath the bark, and a Brackens magnolia has suddenly turned brown, though on some branches buds are alive. The magnolia is extremely cold hardy, but in any year there are tragedies that result from a combination of circumstances, and no doubt that is the case here.



5 thoughts on “The yellow magnolia

  1. Dave, I’ve been meaning to mention this for some time now. The photos you take of your flowers are beautiful and present themselves very well. But I’ve noticed on numerous occasions that many photos seem overly dark. So, in this posting, I extracted the magnolia picture and brought it into Photoshop Elements and took a look at the brightness range. Sure enough, the brightness only took up about 2/3 of the total possible levels. So that nice photo could have been made even nicer.

    When I take photos of my garden flowers, I’ve noticed that, for some reason, my camera does the same thing, i.e., makes a photo darker than it should be. So I always bring these photos into Photoshop Elements and expand the range to the full 0 – 255 intensity. If necessary, I also sometimes color correct too. My goal here is to make the photo represent, as closely as possible, what my eye sees.

    • Don,
      The problem, I think is with how the web provider handles photos. The magnolia photo today was much brighter when I posted it, but today it’s dark. Some days I open the page and photos are very dark, and then an hour later they’re light again. Perhaps I need to err on the side of making the pictures a little lighter if this is happening to other people. Thanks for letting me know, Dave

      • If the original photo fills out the intensity range of 0 – 255, then any pre-brightening will only overly saturate the picture, making it much worse if the range is then subsequently compressed.

        If the web provider is messing with your photos, you should contact them and insist that they stop this practice. Reducing resolutions to conserve disk space is OK, if they must, but reducing the luminance range would bring them no benefit, so, if they do it, it must be a processing bug on their part.

      • I think this is a processing issue, but like so many other things that I don’t fully understand, sometimes it’s a problem, and other times not. Anyway, I’ve brightened the photo up a bit and I’ll watch it in the future.Thanks.

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