|Drawing of Saucer Magnolia|
I was awakened last night when my dog started barking at the thunder and lightning that lit up our room while the hurricane strength winds blew through the apartment. Spring is a wild season—days in the 70s, days in the 30s follow one another. This morning I walked out to Broadway to see if they were still in bloom-the magnolia flowers on Broadway malls from the 80’s to the 90’s. Although debris from overturned garbage cans and limbs of other trees littered the streets, the blossoms of the Saucer Magnolia, Magnolia x soulangeana, hung on. Saucer magnolias, like most magnolias, have flowers before leaves. The big 6”-9” wide pink and white flowers are an early sign of spring and one that is appreciated by the many who sit on benches on Broadway when the sun is out and the days are warmer. Saucer Magnolias are a hybrid of two Chinese magnolias, the Yulan magnolia, Magnolia denudata, and the Mulan magnolia, Magnolia liliiflora, A French horticulturist, Étienne Soulange-Bodin, crossed the two popular Chinese magnolias in 1820 and was pleased with the result of his work, the tree named after him, the Magnolia soulangiana , or Saucer Magnolia that first bloomed in 1826. It is now one of the most popular types of magnolias for street and urban plantings.
In the warmer days last week, I saw little kids sitting on the Broadway benches in the medians with their various caretakers, pointing at and talking about the “flower” trees. A few were drawing them. There were also the older people who year after year sit on benches in the medians, chatting, enjoying the sun, and adding their own life energy to the urban world in which they live. Street trees, flowering and in leaf are a source of color, a source of food for wildlife, and a source of beauty for a neighborhood of brick buildings and concrete sidewalks.
For me, seeing the saucer magnolias inspires me to draw again. I have waited through the winter for the spring buds, flowers, new green leaves, and birds to get out my pencils, colors, and paper and start to draw. I encourage anyone who reads this to do the same.