As the weather turns warm, one of the most anticipated sights of spring is the spectacular blooming of our beloved magnolias. Their showy flowers frame the Hunnewell Building and provide a striking welcome at the Arboretum’s Arborway entrance. Unfortunately, this year’s erratic weather disrupted our usual spring patterns just as the show was getting started. The surprise snowstorm early last week damaged the flowers of nearly all of our earliest flowering magnolias, including star magnolia (Magnolia stellata), anise magnolia (Magnolia salicifolia), and zen magnolia (Magnolia zenii).
Happily, we can still look to some of our later-blooming magnolia species and hybrids to produce the remarkable blooms we’ve been waiting for all winter. The yellow flowers of Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’ (120-78*A) usually delight visitors just before Lilac Sunday (May 8). Also expected to flower in May is umbrella magnolia (Magnolia tripetala, 562-2009*A), which is native to the southeast Appalachian Mountains. Several of these trees grow along Goldsmith Brook just off Willow Path near the Hunnewell Building.
Later in spring, June coaxes the nodding flowers of Oyama magnolia (Magnolia sieboldii, 404-97*B) to release their pollen, and the impressively large tepals of bigleaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla, 560-2009*A) open for beautiful displays. These species can be found just off Valley Road, opposite our oak collection.
Though weather changes are unpredictable and flowering times may vary, we feel confident that the magnolia show still has a few dazzling acts to offer this spring. Even the magnolias whose flowers were browned by the cold are already showing off a few new flowers from later-opening buds. Come for a spring stroll to see them, and use our interactive map to search for magnolias you want to visit!