Monday, February 01, 2010

Magnolia Time

I know we’ve turned the corner on winter (my least favorite season) when we make our first visit of the year to the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park. For 2010 it was today.

We never know exactly when the magnolias will bloom. In the past we’ve sometimes waited too long, and they were past their peak before we saw them. Other times, the reverse. Sandra has her calendar marked for the third week of January. That’s early enough to assure we won’t miss the show.

So this was a little late for a first visit, but the weather has been so wet and nasty for so long I wasn’t incented to go before today. Turns out this was the perfect day.

While magnolias are our main draw, they are not the only attraction. Camellias and rhododendrons share the stage. They all begin flowering about the same time. And each is magnificent in its own way.

When we arrived at the gardens we thought we’d see very little. A lovely magnolia tree near the entrance that stands like a welcoming host is usually in full bloom by now. But its pink flowers didn’t yet fill the entire tree.

Inside we could see that a magnolia grove on the far side of the lake showed patches of pink, but not a lot. Didn’t matter. We’d keep going and see for ourselves. The more we walked the more pleased we were that we’d come. It was true that some of the trees had more buds than flowers and some of the blooms showed signs of damage from the rain. But as we kept going, around every corner and across every patch of green we’d see pink magnolias.

The white magnolias will come later, as they always do. And the pink ones are not yet at their peak. But that too didn’t matter. They are gorgeous.

Several of the rhododendrums were at their peak. Glorious. A deep red, most of them. Stunning. The camellias were just beginning. Most were buds, so they’ll be later bloomers, probably near the end of February.

Spring doesn’t officially begin for about seven weeks. But I’m declaring it’s already here. And to prove me right I noticed that it stayed light till nearly six this evening.

We’ll return to the Botanical Gardens in a week or ten days to check out the next phase of Magnolia Time.


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