The Pleasure With Trees: Magnolia

O the farmer’s joys!
Ohioan’s, Illinoisian’s, Wisconsinese’, Kanadian’s, Iowan’s, Kansian’s, Missourian’s, Oregonese’ joys; …
To train orchards—to graft the trees—to gather apples in the fall.

O the pleasure with trees!
The orchard—the forest—the oak, cedar, pine, pekan-tree,
The honey-locust, black-walnut, cottonwood, and magnolia.

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) from Poem of Joys–Leaves of Grass

My Royal Star Magnolia is living inside with us until after the last freeze.

In the Victorian era, it was associated with the symbolism: Peerless and Proud. The South.

In the book, The Poetry of Flowers, it says, “Of this splendid family of trees the American continent has many species. They are distinguished by their rich, smooth foliage, large, fragrant flowers, and aromatic bark. Some of them are of very exalted stature, taking rank with the highest tenants of the wood.’ In the Southern states, whole groves of the magnificent magnolia grandiflora are found scenting the air for miles around, with their rich and delicious fragrance. The large white leaf of the flower often serves the romantic southern youth for paper. He pricks upon it with a needle or pin the passionate thoughts of his heart, and commits his perfumed billetdoux to the care of zephyr to be wafted to the feet of his ladye-love.”

2 responses to “The Pleasure With Trees: Magnolia

  1. I’d like to add Connecticut to Whitman’s first verse about the apple trees. We have several farmers with apple orchards in town, so much so that each October the town sponsors an annual Apple Harvest Festival. Which has now grown into an event rivaling an amusement park/craft fair. But still, it’s all in honor of the local apples 🙂

  2. emilydickinsonsgarden

    I vote for adding Connecticut, too! That sounds like a wonderful festival!

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