Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Magnolia grandiflora

Magnolia grandiflora, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
Magnolia flower petals are so clean and pure looking.  The powerful, lemony fragrance of each flower is so sweet.  I decided that Magnolia blossoms would be a good flower to post during the month of May, Mary's month.  For is she not truly pure and full of sweetness.

I have shown you drawings of Magnolia blossoms previously.  Magnolia grandiflora is especially dear to me as these are the ones that grow in the deep south on those huge Magnolia trees.  The trees you often see on a southern university campus or in front of some grand, old plantation house.

Southern Magnolia Tree
How many summer evening do I recall the sweet smell of Magnolia on the breeze.  I remember also one of the first homemade corsages I had was made of magnolia blossoms.  It smelled great, but wilted early, turning brown before the evening was over.  Its early demise caused mainly by teen boys trying to dance too close before the days of air conditioning!  Ah, the memories.  Nonetheless, I did wrap the remains in cellophane and press the corsage between the pages of my scrapbook with my favourite boyfriend's name written in code underneath (just in case my mother went snooping!). 

Yes, Magnolias have many associations for me -- along with the memory of how overwhelming the smell can be if the tree is in full bloom:  hot weather combined with overpowering sweetness can leave a person feeling a bit put off of Magnolias occasionally!  In memory, however, I can leave any unpleasantness behind and just remember the good stuff.

As for the flowers themselves, they are symbolic of the American South. Magnolia grandiflora is the state tree of Mississippi and the state flower of Mississippi and Louisiana. The flower was also used as an emblem of the Confederate army in the US civil war. Magnolia grandiflora, commonly known as the southern magnolia or bull bay, is a tree of the family Magnoliaceae native to the southeastern United States, from Virginia south to central Florida, and west to eastern Texas and Oklahoma. Reaching 27.5 m (90 ft) in height, it is a large striking evergreen tree with large dark green leaves and large white fragrant flowers. Widely cultivated around the world, over a hundred cultivars have been bred and marketed commercially. The timber is hard and heavy, and has been used commercially to make furniture, pallets, and veneer.

Magnolia grandiflora (solarization), drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
 Here is a manipulated version of my drawing in which I used the "solarization software" to change the colours significantly.  I find this variation very beautiful.

 Now for something additional about Magnolia grandifloria.  When you look closely at the centre of each blossom, you see the follicetum as shown in the photograph just below.
Photograph of centre of Magnolia grandiflora showing the follicetum clearly

I find this part of the flower so beautiful that I decided to try drawing it. 

Magnolia grandiflora follicetum, drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
 Let me tell you a bit more about Magnolia grandiflora that is revealed to us by this follicetum.

People who study the evolution of flowering plants say that magnolia flowers are similar to some of the very first flowers. They're not the most primitive surviving flower type (waterlilies are often thought to be more primitive), but they're very, very primitive.

Magnolia grandiflora
follicetum photo

Among the magnolia blossom's primitive features are the facts that, in contrast to our standard blossom,  they bear many stamens and many pistils. The stamens are arranged in spiraling rows, and both stamens and pistils are attached to a finger-like receptacle. To understand why these features are considered primitive, you need to know a lot of technical stuff we can't go into here.  However, one easy thing to understand is that some of the oldest fossil flowers discovered are similar to magnolia blossoms.

Magnolia grandiflora follicetum (Inversion), drawing by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer, 2012
 Of course, I couldn't resist experimenting with this rather abstract design.  By using the colour inversion software, I was able to get the follicetum in this beautiful royal blue shade with all the variations on the colour blue.


Here are a few photos that I came across recently.  The first two remind me of the supermoon we had with us recently.  The final photo is of a beautiful lighthouse.  I hope you enjoy them.

Moonglow 1

Moonglow 2

Moonglow and Lighthouse



Well, our guests have come and gone.  It took me about a day to recover from 
Don't bother me -- can't you see I'm sleeping here?
 their visit, but Suki is another story entirely!  She is still catching up on her missed sleep.

As I had predicted, there were just so many things to sniff.  First there were all the items my guests took out of their suitcases and left lying about the apartment.  Then there were the shoes -- Suki has always had a thing about sniffing shoes!!  Plus the inflatable bed was a night's sniffing work all in itself.  Then on top of all this there were the noises.  Both my friends snore (I probably do as well, but just don't know it) and with each new and different snore from the other room, Suki had to get out of her bed and hurry in to the other room and investigate.  This kept her from getting her usual 16 hours sleep a day -- I would be surprised if she managed to get even four hours.

We would go out for our main meal of the day and while we were out, you would think that Suki would take advantage of the opportunity to sleep.  But, no, she apparently spent the time sniffing all the things on the counter tops where I normally do not allow her to climb.  By the time they left on Saturday, Suki was barely able to keep her eyes open.  As soon as she was certain that it was just the two of us again, she crashed and slept non-stop for about 12 hours straight -- no food, no bathroom breaks, nothing -- just deep sleep.

Monday she seemed a bit more like her old self and is now back to getting up whenever she hears me making noises in the kitchen.  I would assume that is indicative of her feeling a bit more rested and refreshed.  Poor Suki.  My friends thoroughly enjoyed her behaviour and said that they were surprised at what an active cat she is!  Right -- they should have seen her after they left.

As for me, I, too, was very tired by the time they left -- I enjoyed their visit thoroughly, but did push myself that extra bit while they were here.  So, I joined Suki and took a number of naps in the 24 hours following, but felt fine again the next day.

We really did have a good visit and since there will be more business to attend to in Buffalo in about six weeks, it is quite possible that they will be visiting again soon.  They left the inflatable bed with me so that it will be here for the next visit. 

I had never seen one of those beds before and found it fascinating.  There are two problems with them that I could see:  first, they are so close to the floor that if I got down there, I would need a couple of strong men (or women) to pull me up; secondly, they give off such a funny noise each time the person sleeping in them moves even just a little bit.  Fortunately, the one friend who was sleeping on the bed was a sound sleeper and was not troubled by the noise they made each time they moved in their sleep (Suki was troubled, but they weren't!!).  Brenda slept on the sofa as usual and I was in my regular sleeping chair.  My apartment was certainly full, but we managed and even had some laughs about crawling over each other in the process of getting things done.

Otherwise, I am doing well.  There are no new medical issues for me to deal with, thanks be to God.  Nor do I have any medical appointments this week.  The one exciting thing I am looking forward to is having a visit from a dear friend who lives in Virginia and will be up here visiting her family.  We have plans for a long lunch on Wednesday so that we can catch up on all the news.

Today, May 22, is the feast of St. Rita of Cascia whose image I posted on March 31. 

Icon, St. Rita,
by Sarah "Sallie" Thayer

I ask that St. Rita will pray for us.  She, along with St. Jude, is the patron of impossible causes so let us expect great things from her intercession on our behalf!

Finally, I ask that the peace of the Lord be with us all and may Our Mother of Perpetual Help hold us tightly by the hand as she leads us to her Son, Jesus. Amen.

No comments: