“The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You’re one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
A wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you’re two months back in the middle of March.”
We have had our share of topsy-turvy weather, yet the 2023 early Spring garden does not disappoint. The usual suspects — daffodils, pieris, forsythia, rhododendrons — fill us with joy every single day. (Photos below.)
Moreover, there is one plant which enriches and celebrates my April Spring garden like no other: Magnolia x loebneri ‘Merrill’. (Photos below of Merrill’s ghostly aura in early morning; Merrill blanketing the landscape with snowy-white beauty and rich fragrance later in the day; Merrill’s multi-petal flower.)
The first Merrill magnolia was bred at the Harvard University Arnold Arboretum in 1939 and in 1952 was named after Dr. E.D. Merrill, a former Arboretum Director. At that time, the Arboretum considered the deciduous tree to be “one of the best and most vigorous of the early white flowering magnolias.” This observation is entirely consistent with my Merrill’s thirty year performance in the garden.
Merrill has much to recommend it: the tree is hardy in Zones 5-8 and is disease-resistant and deer-resistant; before the herbal-scented leaves drop in the Fall, they turn a lovely autumnal gold; Merrill blooms at a young age with masses of sweetly fragrant flowers and in Autumn produces plump red fruit, a favorite of migrating songbirds.
Wonderful tree! Try it, you’ll like it.