What is this mysterious mirage? Is it a cluster of bananas sliced lengthwise? Or a cluster of flattened corn pops? Actually, we're looking at the center of a star. May I present to you Magnolia stellata 'Royal Star' otherwise known as a Star Magnolia. Now, let me state that normally I'm not a huge fan of Magnolias, but Magnolia stellata is an exception. I love this plant! Through winter, this deciduous, small tree sits in a state of suspended animation. As late winter/early spring approaches, mysterious buds appear on branches as downy, plump, fuzzy forms encasing 12-18 creamy white petals. When the bud casings fall off, the petals unfurl into a dream-like starburst of bloom transforming a once naked silhouette of tree into a crisp, clean constellation of splendidly suspended stars.
The look of Magnolia stellata 'Royal Star', in bloom, is somewhat diaphanous and delicious. There is something so contrastingly beautiful about seeing the rough rustic network of branches of this small tree paired with the crisp, yet billowy blooms of fresh white blushed with pink and lemon color. If that wasn't all, the fragrance of the flower is so sensually scandalous! Imagine a hint of luscious lemon with delicious tones of deep honey and voluptuous vanilla. It is a scent that will transport you to a realm of heavenly ecstasy. I really really really really really really wish that someone would come up with a scratch and sniff format for computer screens! This would be one post that would lead you to scratching something silly out of the images above and below.
Magnolia stellata 'Royal Star' grows to be a rounded 12-18 foot tall and wide tree. It definitely tolerates pruning if the desire is to keep it smaller. It loves full sun situations, rich, well-draining soil with plenty of organic compost, regular water, and is hardy down to -20 degrees fahrenheit/-28 degrees celsius. This small tree looks great in a formal situation, an asian garden scenario, and even for those into the idea of growing something that illuminates in the moonlight. Grow it in the ground or a large container. Magnolia stellata 'Royal Star' is just one of those plants that conjures up the image of purity, freshness, and renewal. Surrender to it!