Friday, 18 September 2009

Steel Magnolias

Magnolia x loebneri "Merrill"

Magnolia x loebneri "Leonard Messel"

When we hear someone mention Magnolia trees or blossoms, our thoughts generally turn immediately to sweet smelling blossoms, a summer evening in the deep south and a southern belle sitting on the veranda sipping a mint julep. Have I covered all the usual images?

How many times I have read quotes from romantic books which spoke about the "sweet smell of Magnolias on the warm evening breeze" just before the hero begins his seduction of the book's heroine. Yet when it came to naming his play, Robert Harling used the word "Magnolias" with "Steel" to indicate the reality of southern womanhood: pretty and sweet-smelling on the outside, but steel on the inside.

I am not sure how much he knew about the botanical history of these trees, but "steel magnolias" is actually a good description.

Magnolia is an ancient genus, having evolved before bees appeared! The flowers developed to encourage pollination by beetles. Fossilized specimens of the trees have been found dating to 20 million years ago. The family is quite old and has survived many geological events such as ice ages, mountain formation and continental drift.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the drawings of the two varieties posted above.

Peace be with us all.

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