Flowering trees are showy
symbols of spring. The only
difficulty is choosing from
among the many varieties.
BY JUNE HICKS
f anything gives hope to winter-
weary gardeners, it's watching the
fuzzy buds slowly develop on
Although these buds form in late
summer/early fall, they don't really
show much progress until after the
winter solstice. Then, day by day, the
swelling continues. Suddenly, when
the weather is just right, these beau-
ties burst open to announce the arri-
val of spring and lead the parade of
flowering trees that follow.
The star magnolia (M. stellata)
pops open first, its starlike white
blooms boasting a lovely fragrance.
It's not quite as dramatic as the
saucer magnolis (M. x soulangiana)
that opens soon afterward, the
blooms resembling huge saucers.
Major disappointment with the
saucer magnolia comes when a spell
of extremely warm weather or a sud-
den rain hits, and the petals "shatter"
and fall to the ground . . . after all that
Still, the saucer and star magnolias
have lovely shapes and picturesque
gray stems that lend much to the
landscape even when there are no
flowers or leaves. Foliage develops
soon after blooms have dropped.
Most homeowners don't realize that
the saucer magnolia boasts flowers
of many different colors besides
white. Outer petals can range from
rose to purple.
Although there are about 80 spe-
cies of magnolias available, northern
gardeners tend to stick to the previ-
ous two because of their hardiness
in cooler climates. Anyone wishing to
plant a magnolia tree should consult
with local nurseries to see what other
varieties are available.
Almost as soon as the early mag-
nolias drop their blooms, the crab-
apples start their gorgeous display.
Sometimes it seems as if the whole
world is filled with these trees when
driving from one neighborhood to
One reason these beauties have
become so popular is their versatil-
ity. Certain varieties not only provide
flowers in the spring but small, col-
orful fruit in late summer and fall.