Fleeting Beauty

Magnolia blossom

The annual spectacular of blossoming trees has begun.

My small magnolia tree started the show two weeks ago. It does not flower long, so you have to admire its fleeting beauty while you can. From the beginning to the end, it will only last for two or three weeks at most. For a tree, it is tiny, not much bigger than a shrub really, and it grows very slowly. Like all magnolias, it has got a nice open structure, but for most of the year it is pretty unremarkable, very easy not to notice much at all. But when it does flower, it is truly magnificent, and during that time it more than justifies its place in the garden.

It is wonderful to chart its progress, from the buds opening to the peak flowering. Every year, during those short weeks, I try to photograph it in as many different types of light as I can.

Magnolia bud (1024x682)

I love its furry little buds that gradually open, revealing the pink petals they have been hiding.

Gradually, more and more flowers start to come out.

Start of Magnolia blossom (1024x683)

The tree gets beautiful morning light from the East. It closes its flowers for the night, so at this early hour, the flowers won’t be fully open. They are no less lovely for that.

Magnolia in morning light

Magnolia in morning light II

Magnolia blossom in morning light

If you want to see the flowers fully open, you will need to wait until later on in the day.

In the middle of the day, the light is a bit too strong for atmospheric photographs, but if you wait until the late afternoon, there is a short window of good light before the sun disappears behind the woodland on the West side of our house. Then, if you time yourself right, you can capture the rays of the late afternoon sun lighting the flowers.

Magnolia in evening light

Magnolia blossom, closeup (1024x683)

Magnolia blossom in evening light (1024x683)

But soon, the sun will disappear behind the trees, and the magnolia will be in shadow for the rest of the day.

However, it’s not too late for photography even then, as the diffused evening light can still give beautifully atmospheric photographs.

Magnolia II (1024x683)

Magnolia at dusk (1024x683)