December 14, 2018

Caroline’s Garden Diaries 16.6.16: Chinese Wilson

Discovered an amazing thing last week; my recently acquired Magnolia wilsonii developed a weird looking lump on one of its twigs, a greeny-coloured sac, looking like a butterbean or an insect’s chrysalis. On closer inspection I wondered – could it actually be a flower bud? Great excitement if so – I bought this magnolia because I fell in love with it and its cousin M. sinensis on seeing them in Ray Wood, but had planted it in traditional spirit of a legacy for the future.

And then, three days ago, the weird growth opened into a flower – what a thrilling moment! M. wilsonii has the most beautiful flowers in the world, and here is one on a small plant in my garden.

What makes the flower so special, at least in my eyes, is the pure waxy white of its petals, contrasted with the deep crimson of its stamens gathered round a central milky-green receptacle, all arranged most elegantly to hang down rather than sitting on the branch as do the magnolias we normally grow. So when you walk under 30- or 40-year old trees, you look up and there’s heaven looking down.

Part of the thrill comes from the knowledge that this magnolia is one of Ernest Wilson’s introductions from his plant-hunting trips to China in the early 1900s. Reading about his incredible undertakings to find another magic tree, Davidia involucrata, involving a journey of thousands of miles, surviving horrendous dangers (imprisoned as a spy; punted by natives high on opium; chased by terrorist fighters), you feel so privileged to see his trees in this country.

Coming down to earth, literally, I’ve had to lie on wet grass to look up into my Chinese Wilson – and then I see that a slug has been there first; oh well, that’s life.


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Claxton & Sand Hutton Family 90th Birthday Party for the Queen 11th June

In excess of 100 people enjoyed a great afternoon at the event on Claxton Green, sponsored by The Parish Council. From our youngest residents to our more senior, everyone joined in the festivities. The superb abundance of delicious eats was provided by the ladies of the W.I. and others, with hardly a crumb remaining and included a special home-made Birthday Cake. Music from Jenny, Jo and Mary made a special contribution to the event and the children (and some of the adults) had a great time winning prizes on the retro games. My special thanks to Jenny Whiteley for the Parish Council and Angela Steele for the W.I. who gave me invaluable support throughout the planning stages and on the day. Thanks also to the musicians, the guys who put up and took down and everyone who helped to make the event such a success. Finally, a big thank you to you all for so many kind comments and joining in the festivities.