It’s happening. There was still the palest hint of light in the sky at quarter past six yesterday evening. Of course, we face about as far to the west as you can here, given that the Pacific ocean actually lies to the south for us. Chalk it up to the weirdness of California.
With the days edging ever so slightly longer, there are other harbingers of spring. The hens are getting worked up. Roosting patterns disrupted, the coop in disarray from guerrilla nesting attempts, egg production suddenly on the upswing; the girls are trying to impress!
But my favorite heralds of spring are the tulip magnolias. Also known as Saucer Magnolias, Chinese Magnolia or, more correctly, Magnolia × soulangeana. All the other plants are still trying to wake up from their long winter’s nap, but, thankfully, the magnolias always set their alarm clock early. Nothing else in bloom, so they really get to show off:
Visitors ask to take a flower home; passersby call out to exclaim – “they are so beautiful!” Yes they are!
I think of them mostly as an east coast tree, but they are graded for hardiness zones 4-9 and they have been very happy now for several years standing guard at our north-facing front entry. Eleven months of the year you don’t even notice them, but in late February and early March they are the belle of the ball.
Fun fact: while the ancestors of our trees hark from China, the Magnolia genus is named for 17th century French botanist Pierre Magnol:
The only downside to these trees is that, in less forgiving climates, their spring debut can be thwarted by hard freezes or early spring frosts. They can also grow to as tall as 25 feet, so pruning shears must be kept at the ready.
The magnolias are just the beginning: next there will be the sweet smell of pittosporum and fennel and then the volunteer nasturtiums by the roadside will pop into a frenzy of orange blooms. By the time May rolls around, the hens will be eating loquats from the tree by the coop and the jacarandas will unfurl their purple blossoms. To everything there is a season, and today I pink spring might be the best of them all!