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Remember the Magnolias

Posted by Joanne Martin
Joanne Martin
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on Tuesday, 10 April 2012
in Blogs

For once the groundhog was right. Or was he? It wasn’t so much that spring had come early, but more like summer had! How could it possibly be 28C – in March – in Ontario, Canada!? The first day of spring, 2012 felt like the first day of summer. It was so warm, in fact, that in some areas night-time low temperatures exceeded the previous record daytime highs! Is it because of “global warming”? Some did acknowledge concern. Nevertheless, we all enjoyed it!

Of course everyone was caught unprepared by this unseasonable weather. Summer clothes were still in storage. “Snowbirds” were still in Florida – where it was now cooler than in Ontario! Farmers quickly readied their equipment and began to plant seed. Nurseries had no product available yet for those - like me - who suddenly had the urge to garden. Yes, yes, I know, you should never plant anything here before the 24th of May weekend, or at least not before Mother’s Day. But I couldn’t resist planting at least some patio boxes. In the event of frost, I can always tuck them into the garage for the night. After all, everything else was blooming!

The forsythia is always first, dazzling with its yellow boughs. It is soon followed by the brilliant splashes of colour as crocuses, daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths seemed to be opening everywhere! From the bare, brown branches of fruit trees, emerged blossoms that would one day bring fruit, now just delicate petals of white, pink and red. And oh, the magnolias! They were magnificent this year! Here in Ontario, the creamy pink magnolia buds usually begin to open in late April and will last right through May. But this year, they bloomed in March; and they were awesome! Ah, spring! It’s what we Canadians look forward to so much after a long winter.

But, of course, it was early, ahead of schedule; and it was too good to last. After only a few glorious days, temperatures dropped back down to more normal seasonal levels. Unsurprised, I tucked my patio boxes into the garage. Fruit farmers erected huge fans in their orchards, and reportedly lost only about 5% of their potential fruit. But what of the magnolia? Overnight those beautiful creamy pink and white blooms withered and turned an ugly brown, bitten by the sudden, but not unseasonal, frost. The magnolia trees, of course, are fine; and they will bloom again. But it won’t happen this season.

And I was reminded: I had launched a new project myself recently; and I did it with great fanfare. But, like the magnolia blossoms, it was just a little bit premature. And so, after a brief blaze of glory, things quickly cooled off, and it withered. But it is certainly not dead. The source is still solid, the roots firm, and the soil fertile. So I may just pull it in for a bit, give it more time, allow the seeds to germinate fully, allow the environment to warm a bit more, tend to it a bit more carefully, nurture the growth of tender branches, and ensure that is very well established before we enter the next season.

To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
A time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted…


Happy gardening! But remember the magnolias; and don’t rush it!


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