My preferred morning is a gentle one, a slow start, a leisurely and quiet beginning to the day but I was moved into action this morning well ahead of my more comfortable schedule and it was a tree which prompted this uncharacteristic exuberance – for, to me, anything beyond a quiet breakfast, a gentle chat and a quiet read is exuberant, excessive, intrusive and, generally, unwelcome.
But, plants have their their moments and sometimes we must move ourselves if we are to enjoy them at their best.. Early morning low sunshine perfectly sets off a yellow-flowered magnolia in the garden. It lights up the flowers as though there were so many lightbulbs on the tree – not quite Christmas tree gaudy but bright, pretty and cheerful. For the rest of the day, with the sun is overhead, it is still beautiful but not quite so attractive. This is its moment.
The tree is in view as we sit for breakfast and caught my attention to such a degree that I went outside to look at and enjoy it, camera in hand to capture the moment. This is Magnolia ‘Yellow Lantern’ – appropriately named when its glowing flowers struck me as so many lightbulbs, I suppose.
Although the flowers Magnolia ‘Yellow Lantern’ don’t have the elegance of Magnolia x soulangeana, one of its parents, it certainly has inherited its vigour and has proved a very easy and reliable plant in the garden. Indeed, I have removed several of the lower branches on this tree as they swung out over the grass and were in the way when I was mowing the lawn.
Magnolia x soulangeana is a cross between Magnolia denudata and Magnolia liliflora, a cross first made by the Parisian nurseryman and retired cavalry officer, Etienne Soulange-Bodin, who commented of the Napoleonic wars that “we would all have been better off staying at home to grow our cabbages”.
Magnolia ‘Yellow Lantern’ was bred by the American magnolia expert, Philip Savage, crossing the American Magnolia acuminata (for the yellow colour) with Magnolia x soulangeana ‘Alexandrina’ (for form). The yellow is a very soft yellow, a creamy lemon rather than a striking clear yellow, a gentle colour perfectly suited for morning enjoyment.