Friday, April 6, 2012

Yellow Magnolias

For years, I was intrigued by the idea of yellow magnolias and disappointed that I never saw any in Boston. I discovered them in garden catalogues; they seemed like such a necessary invention. Trees covered with plump, sunny yellow flowers struck me as a refreshing change from the sea of pink and white we have all over Back Bay.

Last year, some Garden Club friends told me I could find yellow magnolias on the Rose Kennedy Greenway by the North End. They also warned me not to get my hopes up. So I went, and finally saw — and they were a let-down. They were a later-blooming variety, so they were in leaf when they blossomed, unlike most of our pink or white trees, where the flowers bloom on bare branches. The greenish-yellow flowers blended right into the young, yellowish-green leaves. The overall effect was a dreary chartreuse. Sallow. Jaundiced. So much for that.

So, imagine my surprise today, when I spotted two mature, pretty, yellow magnolias of a different variety outside 37 Beacon Street, across from the Common. They were the trees of my fantasies, with full, lemony flowers and no distracting leaves:


I was delighted to see them at first, but I have to confess: they seemed weird to me the longer I studied them. They seemed... um... "yellowed." I think our white and pink trees look more appealing and "springy" after all. These seem unnatural. A bit stale.

Maybe I just need more time to get used to them. 

What's your impression? Do these magnolias look lovely and different or do they remind you of old ivory piano keys or something that could use a good bleaching?


If you're heading that way, you'll also see a pair of exceptional window boxes just a few doors away. They look like Easter baskets packed with spring bulbs and pussywillow:

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