Early Magnolias

Magnolias in a Zen Garden?

The Magnolia grandiflora, otherwise known as a Magnolia tree is a fascinating, yet unusual, addition to a Zen Garden.

Magnolias are found in the southern United States.  Why would you put them in a Zen Garden?  Well, namely it is a gorgeous tree. They are very tall and reach amazing heights when grown properly.  They have luscious green foliage and beautiful white flowers.  They also provide shade and produce a wonderful fragrant aroma to the garden.  This is interesting because a Zen Garden is well-known for meditative sights, sounds, and physical textures, but rarely does a person think of the sense of smell and its crucial role.


Magnolias are what arborists and botanists call a flowering tree. Flowering trees are the oldest type of tree on the planet.  Scientists believe that the flowering trees developed soon after ferns and other early types of plants.  So, the ancestry of this type of tree dates back to before the dinosaurs.


This photograph of an early magnolia bud was a unique find for me.   Usually when I find a magnolia tree the blooms have already open and the white petals are starting to turn brown.  My timing of finding these great trees in a “photographic” state has never been exactly spot on.  But this bud caught my eye.


The brownish black looking curls wrapped around the wooly center bud reminded me of the woody texture of cloves.  But what captured my eye was the orange protruding stems on the underside of the bud.  It almost looks like the antennae of some strange alien bug.


It is hard to imagine that this unique bud turns into a large single white bloom with such a fragrance.


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