Ode to Old Mag-nole

You know of my trials with my magnolia tree. Of my feeble and broadly ineffective attempts to repel, repulse, fend off, and otherwise discourage the local scurry of squirrels from munching through the emerging flower buds every Spring.

Last week, after I had spilled water-and-cayenne on every available surface near the tree and its adjacent fence, things seemed to be going well. The buds were so close to swelling past the point-of-interest for the local rodents–some milestone of development invisible to the human eye–and turning pink before my eyes. Maybe we were home-free.

2-photo collage of magnolia buds

Then it snowed and the overnight temps dropped into true frost territory, not once but twice. Within a few days those wannabe blooms were littering the ground under the tree. Frost-bit, I assume, and brittle – so brittle that a stupid, sniffing, clumsy, trespassing, obnoxious squirrel would break them off easily. Nay, callously carelessly.

Harsh off-season frost.
Earth blushes with your victims:
flow’ry never-bes.

We’ll see what the second wave brings. I don’t want to despair just yet. Let’s see what another famous poet has to say about it.

If it be now, ’tis not to come.
If it be not to come, it will be now.
If it be not now, yet it will come — the readiness is all.

And yet I can’t be quite as sanguine. The magnolia makes a good-faith effort to bloom, but if ’tis thwarted twice, goes straight to leaves, readiness be damned.

The flowers are worth some effort, says me, but I do understand working to schedule.

2-photo collage of full magnolia blooms


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10 Responses to Ode to Old Mag-nole

  1. Tom Watson says:

    Magnolias are so beautiful.

  2. Another perfect
    haiku blossom
    phoenix magnolia

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Ah, there, you see: the poetic sensibility I lack. You show rather than telling. Lovely.

  3. Jim Taylor says:

    The magnolias are almost finished out here. The flowers still on the trees are fading; the magnificent colours have moved down to the ground around.
    I remind myself that magnolias, outside of their one week in spring, are a rather dull and nondescript tree. I compare them with the split-leaf red maple outside my office window that bears no blossoms, but is a joy for three seasons. Ditto the golden locust, the variegated euonymous, the weeping beech. And I ask myself, if I were a tree, which would I rather be? A brief flash of sheer glory? A steady source of pleasure?
    It’s a hypothetical question, because I can’t be a tree. And I don’t know which I would choose.

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – And both answers are right: glory and steady pleasure. We need them both.

  4. I have decided that squirrels find cayenne a delightful condiment. Good luck. Your luck is already assured, because you actually have magnolia plants.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – LOL. You might be right. Squirrels seem to eat everything. And yes, isn’t it amazing to grow magnolias in Canada? I guess the left coasters don’t find it remarkable but this transplanted Albertan sure does.

  5. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – you and the Big Guy shouldn’t have left the downtown core. There wasn’t a frost in the downtown due to the extra ambient heat from the buildings – and the two magnolias I pass on my walks are still doing fine.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – But I didn’t have a magnolia tree downtown – or room for one. We did, however, have squirrels on our balcony.

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