Star magnolia

Rosa 'All Ablaze' blazes cherry red in Burke Brothers' Tuscany exhibit, accenting classic Italian elements with bright flowers. (Ron Tarver / Staff photographer)

This magnolia's a star - literally. Its name is Magnolia stellata. I've probably strolled by this medium-sized tree 100 times but it struck me yesterday on a walk in the park as if I were seeing it for the first time. What a lovely alternative to the ubiquitous pink magnolias, which though very nice turn brown and get messy way too fast. The star magnolia (Japanese) has 15 or more of these long, thin petals that eventually get brown and messy like their pink kin. But here they look ready to wave in the breeze, light as can be. The tree is loaded with blooms, top to bottom, like a giant white fluff ball. Which is how I was feeling yesterday - light and sunny on a terrific spring afternoon. Maybe that lightness of being was due to the fact that my garden work was finished - for the day and the weekend. Nothing brightens a mood quite like that.