A day in the life of the magnolia and te maunga

I rushed out at 7.40am on Monday because the day had dawned sunny, clear and calm and I thought the mountain should be in view. We only have one really good view from the garden and at this time of the year, Magnolia campbellii is in bloom in our park. It being just past mid winter here and the subject being a mountain, it is more often shrouded in cloud. We are inclined to get apologetic about this in Taranaki but I remember driving round the South Island with our son some years ago. We never once saw the Southern Alps and that was down the east coast and up the west coast in January. Mountains attract cloud which is all the more reason to celebrate the winter view when it is revealed.

This is 15 minutes later at 7.55am when the sun has risen. It is Mount Taranaki, more commonly referred to by locals simply as the mountain, or te maunga in Maori (or indeed, te mounga in the local dialect). Or maybe the brother of the more famous Fuji. (I still have Barbara Trapido’s ‘Brother of the More Famous Jack’ in my bookcase). It is an active volcanic cone standing in splendid isolation surrounded by a ring plain and bounded by the coast for maybe 200°  of its circumference.

Thirty five minutes later at 8.30am and this is as clear as we can ever see it. With bonus bird. Te maunga is somewhere between 35 and 40 km away from us, the magnolia is in our park so these shots are right at the limit of my camera zoom and my ability to get both the tree and the peak in relatively equal focus.

By 10 am, the cloud is starting to roll in on the lower slopes.

At 10.45 am I expected to lose the sight within the next few minutes.

But it was still visible at 11.50 am and looking as beautiful as I have ever seen it. I have not used any filters or enhancements on these photos.

But gone from view by mid afternoon. I liked the Facebook comment that the mountain is always shining; it is just the rain (and cloud) that gets in the way of us seeing it. The magnolia is the unusual pink form of M. campbellii known as the Quaker Mason form. Because this was put into circulation so early in this country, we tend to regard pink as the dominant colour in the campbelliis but white is far more common in the wild and therefore in cultivation internationally. I have written about this M. campbellii in earlier posts. It is always the first magnolia to bloom for us each season and is really only suited to milder climates where those early blooms will not get taken out by frosts.

While we struggle here at times with the unacceptably high impact of the fossil fuel industry (Tikorangi Gaslands, anyone?), it is scenes like the magnolia and te maunga that keep us anchored to this piece of land both physically and spiritually.

Our pink Magnolia campbellii

15 thoughts on “A day in the life of the magnolia and te maunga

  1. Pat Webster www.siteandinsight.com

    Quite inspirational, Abbie. What good fortune, to be able to see the magnolia and mountain (and errant bird) at the same time. The effect of different light levels at different times is very interesting, too.

    I’m glad you shared these photos. Thank you.

  2. jaspersdoggyworld

    When we lived in Lower Hutt, we lived in Avalon Cres which was part of Quaker Mason’s garden. On our small section 600 sqm, we had some magnificent camellias. There were a number of protected trees in the Crescent.

  3. Elizabeth Shearer

    A stunning and dedicated compilation of images and the accompanying narrative. Truly special. Thanks for sharing it with us all.

  4. tonytomeo

    I do not remember the name ‘Quaker Mason’, but I do remember that we had pink Magnolia campbellii. The pink were more popular. Even Magnolia lennei ‘Alba’ was unpopular; but those that died back while waiting to be sold and regenerated from their pink Magnolia lennei understock were quite popular. I really did not want to make a habit of selling bad trees, but our clients really wanted them, even if I explained what had happened to them.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      The Quaker Mason form is probably not seen out of NZ, except maybe the occasional arboretum. It is curious how much colour is linked to particular cultures. White is by far the most popular colour – so to speak – in NZ (seen as frightfully good taste in some quarters) and lennei alba would probably outsell the pink by 20 to one.

      1. tonytomeo

        White is so dreadfully unpopular here. Even if it were not my favorite color, I think that it is often the best color for gardens in regions dominated by dark redwood forests. At work, we do not use much deep red or purple. Flowers are mostly pink, with a few blue hydrangeas. I think that we could add more white, particularly dogwoods. We relocated a white star magnolia, which my colleague fortunately likes. We have quite a history with that poor tree, so no one will dare say anything bad about it, even though it was moved in summer and consequently looks tired. I am hoping it will be fine in the spring. It looks like it should be. They do not get very big here, but they happen to be one of the few magnolias that can be maintained. We do not have many big sunny spots for larger magnolias.

  5. Judy

    Lovely photos Abbie, how lucky we are to enjoy this giant of beauty . I can see Mt Taranaki on a clear day from a hill 9 kms south of Whanganui and I sometimes stop there just for a few minutes to enjoy it. Thank you again. Judy

Comments are closed.