Monday, February 6, 2012

Michelia maudiae - splendid, if a bit early


Okay.  Here are the recent full-bloom dates for Margaret Moseley's beloved Michelia maudiae:  March 20, 2010;  March 8, 2011;  January 28, 2012 (the photograph above).

The first time I ever saw this fabulous shrub/tree was when clematis expert and avid gardener Lyndy Broder brought a branch to the Southeastern Flower Show one year.  We all followed her to the woody specimens table (that's the place where people exhibit their cut branches of shrubs and trees) to find out what this magnificent white, fragrant flower was.  It had long, glossy green leaves that looked a lot like a sweet bay magnolia.  And, the blooms were also magnolia-like, but were held in clusters on the branch.  It was sensational, and Lyndy deservedly took home an award of excellence.

As is usually the case, Margaret Moseley heard about the fabulous flower, and Lyndy acquired one for her.  At some point, when Margaret was in her late 80's or maybe early 90's, she decided to move the shrub, as it wasn't in the right place.  She still laughs when she talks about dragging the six-foot tall shrub across the yard to its new home, where it has reached twenty feet in height.

Margaret's michelia is early this year, but the good thing is that several of us got to see it in bloom - a gorgeous sight.  I was confused as to the species, but an e-mail to Lyndy Broder cleared this up.  This is definitely a desirable plant (if a bit gangly in form) that may be a challenge to find for sale.  I can say for sure that it brings a lot of happiness and pleasure to Margaret, who beamed when she told us it's one of her favorite plants ever.