This is Magnolia time. And every year there is some slight discord in this house as Charles insists he prefers (prefers, note) the bud to the blossom. Well, I can’t go along with that.
But it’s interesting, because the whole thing from bud to blossom is a journey (sorry, I know you’re fed up of that word) and I find myself wondering what is the peak point of this trip?
When is the peak?
You can say that each day is a joy in itself. Well, of course it is. That’s why we take endless Instagram pics so everyone can enjoy each delightful day as a bud develops. But when I look at a bud I am also anticipating what the bud will become. For me it has not arrived when it is simply in bud. Part of my pleasure is in the process, and the waiting until – well, until it flowers. Flowering is the point. It is for a bee and it is for me.
And there’s beauty in the just begining to open thing too.
This is special – roses do it from bud to blossom, definitely:
But I’m waiting for this!?
When has it gone?
Then there’s the going over. When does that happen and do we like that? Is there a tipping point when pleasure turns to distaste? That’s perhaps more obvious with cut flowers, when we have to decide when to throw them away. It’s always hard to let them go but it’s also true that the pleasure they offer does diminish as you start to think about how the petals will be all over the floor when you pick up the vase to chuck them.
Once when I was on holiday we bought some anemones (coronaria) and I photographed them every day (see here https://veddw.com/general/decay/) . I think I finished too soon – it was probably the end of the holiday – as they had only just started to go over, and now I wonder just how they would have looked as they did it. Shrivel or drop? (hint to flower purchasers) But taking a series of photographs may make it possible to tell just when the peak and then tipping point is.
Yesterday we were looking at these tulips and wondering if they’d had it.
A closer look tells you maybe not?
How do we tell when a flower is at its best? By close watching. That way we’ll enjoy every moment.
But also, I think our feeling tells us. Look at a bud or flower and there is a little lift of the spirits (if all is relatively well in your world). Whether it is lift of sprits or a slight lowering perhaps tells us when the flower’s time is done?
Some buds might just change my mind about my preference.
I’m glad you included the magnolia grandiflora. To my mind,there’s not a bad stage on the road to decay. I love the buds when they look like eggs sitting on the branches, the glorious flowers fully open( have you noticed that the scent changes w when they’re pollinated?) and even the dropped petals are like chamois leather. Even then,the central boss remains…
I hadn’t noticed that about the scent – I look forward to confirming that. But there’s still the process, the expectation of the next stage which seems to me an inevitable part of the pleasure. We don’t wish it wouldn’t open. But you have identified an great plant, and as you say, the going over is exceptional.
Sometimes I prefer the bud, sometimes the bloom. And sometimes, the going over part. Some camellias are best when they begin to fade.
I think camellias are best not planted at all. Seems to me that as soon as they open (I do like the bud stage) then they simply don’t like weather – at least British weather. Rain or frost – which is almost inevitable at this time of year- just ruin them. And the blighters don’t have the decency to drop their manky flowers but hang on to them like grim death.
I can’t comment on camellias – see above, we’re not allowed them.
It is rare that we get to enjoy magnolias through stages. The flowers usually go from buds just opening to the black bat phase. That’s what the blooms look like after a heavy frost. Which we just got last night.
Now that really has to foul up any pleasurable expectation.
You said it, Anne… Close Watching… helps for most things in life, and not just plants… thanks!
That opens interesting paths…
Wonderful post and thanks to Charles, too, for his photos!
Amaryllis? (Okay, Hippeastrum then). I am most excited when I see the bud, because until then I’m not sure whether it will bloom or not, especially with bulbs saved from last year or the year before that, etc. But then I am waiting with anticipation to see which one it turns out to be, because I haven’t usually labeled the color when I put them away for the rest period in late fall. Ane here’s a tricky one: Pussywillow. Because if you let it go to “peak bloom” as in ripened pollen, then you can’t save it until next year because it has passed that fuzzy catkin stage. And then there are those buds like some hibiscus, which have a wonderful swirly shape after they have begun to show their petal color but before they are quite open.
Yes, the business of not knowing what you’ve got (nearly always in this house) adds a special dimension. And maybe we could have a book of buds to feature the really special ones.
Witnessing a flower emerge from bud to bloom is to me an awesome adventure. Some petals, especially those of tulips when they age remind me of exhausted dancers, gently falling to the ground.
I think tulips are especially great at going over. It may be their pièce de résistance.
Agree, I like to collect fallen & dry tulip petals as well as dried daffodil flowers which keep a pleasing colour almost to the next year.
I love most every stage of a flowers life, but perhaps most of all its languid giving over to wilt. I can feel my shoulders relax just looking at those fading tulips above. Actually, there is a stage that I detest — fetid vase water. Perfectly horrid.
Now you can’t blame the flowers for the vase water……
I read a lot of content from flower farmers and am mostly trained to watch like a hawk for the “marshmallow” or “cracked bud” stage – generally optimal when picking things.
That said, I absolutely love seeing things in full bloom, like the crocuses that open and close when days are sunny and mild (just had a couple of inches of snow yesterday, which has already melted). The crepe-paper quality of fading daffodils is so ethereal and beautiful, and nothing beats watching tulips droop and slowly lose their petals on the kitchen table.
I have not come across the critical bud picking stage – so much to discover in this world.
Spot on and the images luxuriant! I am watching Aquilegias coming out with similar enthusiasm. Thanks for sharing!
it’s important to note that both the Bud and the Blossom have their own unique characteristics and benefits. While the Bud may be the early stage of a flower’s growth, it holds within it the potential to become a beautiful Blossom. On the other hand, the Blossom is the fully formed and matured flower, showcasing its full beauty and fragrance.
The bud does seem to have an elegant bent.
Good word for them, elegant.
And then there are the flower petals, especially of roses, that lend their beauty to the ground beneath them when they fall.
O, yes ! And cherry blossom and… no doubt lots more. Great reminder.