Magnolia is a real marvel

Published 5:12 am Wednesday, May 17, 2017

On this gorgeous spring day, I sit under a wizened old tree, listening to the delightful chorus of birds chirping all around. A gentle breeze blows as I watch and listen to the natural world around me. A lovely bluebird rustles in a gutter overflowing with leaves. The powder blue feathers make me think he must be a male since the female birds are never quite as remarkable.

The last couple of weeks most of my time has been spent refurbishing a house after the previous tenants moved away. I, along with David, my handyman and friend, both see the end of our project in sight. We are quite ready to complete this house and get on with what’s next at hand. The two of us, as well as some additional workmen, have toiled feverishly, trying to make everything as nice as possible for the new family preparing to move in.

David is painting the patio with colored gripper paint while I sit nearby typing away. Thank goodness the sun is making a quick job of drying the patio, since one very impatient little dachshund sings a mournful tune inside the sunroom. She will have to sing away for a while because we certainly don’t want doggie prints in our fresh paint!

This past Saturday, I hired a high-school student to help me in the yard. I raked while he bagged all the leaves and hauled them to the street for pick up. When I arrived this morning and opened the gate to admire my handiwork I could hardly believe my eyes! The magnolia that shades most of the backyard appeared to have magically grown and shed a whole new crop of leaves. Dutifully, I raked them again, wondering how in the world my helper and I could have missed so many only two days prior.

Well, it didn’t take long to refresh my memory on the joys and sorrows of this particular tree. The pleasant breeze continues to keep the heat at bay while I enjoy the wonderful shade under her arms outstretched as if in welcome to all who would find a place there. Her thick leathery leaves can be used in wreaths and a variety of decorations. I’ve used them both sprayed gold and left natural and have been very pleased with the results. There are not many things quite as special as those fragrant and beautiful magnolia blossoms, which conjure up thoughts of mint juleps, big hats and fireflies.

But along with the benefits there is also one drawback. Said breeze continues to urge leaf after leaf from its place of prominence on the tree to a new home on my freshly raked lawn. A lot of work and a few blisters later, I still think the tree is lovely and worth the effort to maintain. Isn’t that the way with anything worthwhile? Thankfully, a new family will soon move in, and they will also learn lessons from the magnificent magnolia.

Jan Penton Miller can be reached at