Photo: Japanese Magnolia

My Neighbor's Japanese Magnolia

I’m weird about trees. There are several stories I could tell of emotional attachments I’ve gotten to trees. Sometimes it’s one specific tree (The 100+ year old dogwood at the botanical gardens) and sometimes it’s a certain type of tree as a group. In this case? Japanese Magnolia.

One of my favorite professors in college got very upset when the school decided to cut down one of the Japanese Magnolias we had on campus, in order to make room for a bigger Lion habitat. (What?) He was tenured AND about to retire so he just confronted the Vice President of the University about it when we passed him one day on the sidewalk. It was a great show of principle as my professor voiced his opinions about this tree and how ridiculous it was the university was just going to destroy it without even trying to move it. Since then, I think of him every spring when they bloom.

They’re fragile trees, so often you’ll only see their blooms for a few days before a storm or a cold spell gets them. But they bloom first in our part of the country…bringing in Spring with a crazy burst of gorgeous pink. I love them, even if they don’t last long.

This one is in my neighbor’s yard and I snuck over there today to photograph it before a storm hits. You can see the series here.


  • Heather

    We have a 30+ foot tall one in our front yard and I love it. Like you say, it’s the first blast of spring – even if the rain tears all the blooms down in a couple days. We always trim a colorful branch or two of blooms to bring inside in a vase.

    One Saturday a few years ago we were walking out our front door to head to the city market and saw a group of 20-30 people in front of our house on the sidewalk. We felt very self conscious for about 20 seconds before we figured out that it was a neighborhood tree tour and our magnolia was a spotlight. Better the tree in the limelight than us!

    We are moving later this spring and I know that this tree is one of the top ten things I will miss in this house.

    • judy white

      I have a Japanese Magnolia, I want to move it, Do they have long tap roots? it is about 6 feet tall. I want to move it, it is undera a electric wire. Can it be moved?

  • Heather

    It’s very lovely! I myself have a rather strange attachment to arbutus trees at the moment, as they grow rather prolifically around here yet are apparently quite hard to cultivate but darn it I WANT ONE in my yard, thankyouverymuch. I should go out and take some photos of them. Kim darling, you may have just inspired me 😀

  • Brenda

    as beautiful as they are, all I can think about is how it make me sneeze 😉 I lived in NC for 5 years and remember when the dogwoods would bloom….so pretty!

  • Karen

    I *love* these trees! The kids are probably sick of me saying, “I want one of those trees!” every time we pass by one (like I did today on our way to AB Stephens). Now I know what they are, I am hopefully a little closer to getting one….

  • Clarabella

    My parents have had a Japanese Magnolia in our front yard since I can remember (I’m in 30s), so I am partial to them as well. Gorgeous shot.

  • Mary Anne

    OH how I love these trees!! I planted one in our front yard 2 houses ago and we had to move….luckily, I was able to take a branch that had rooted itself and take part of it with us. We never got a chance to plant it at our last house, but was able to plant it at the house that we are at now. It didn’t bloom this year (so far) but I am hoping that it will survive and bloom again in the future! Thank for sharing the beautiful pics! 🙂