A story of the magnolia, the mountain and air freshener

Thursday July 9 at 8.40am

The first photo opportunity of the year to capture our Magnolia campbellii and Mount Taranaki came this week and it reminded me of a funny story. Well, I think it is funny.

It was only last year, I think, that a creative from a Sydney advertising agency contacted me. She had found a photo of mine on the internet of this very scene and she was enquiring whether we would agree to let a film crew visit to film it for a product – unspecified. She wanted permission and to negotiate a fee so she could pitch the concept to the client.

I briefly thought it might be fun. But only briefly, until I worked out the logistics of the exercise. That is a very specific view shaft and a scene that is visible for just a few days each year. I imagined the crew flying in, some from Sydney and maybe the film crew from Auckland and me feeling personally responsible for the weather. That is a mountain. In midwinter, it is  more often shrouded in cloud than in clear view. I can go out at 8am and it may be fine and sunny here but 40km away, on that mountain peak, the cloud is moving in and by 8.03 there is nothing left to see.  We can go a week, maybe ten days, without a clear view of the peak. With a film crew hanging around waiting for the moment? I think not.

Magnolia campbellii var campbellii

Then I shuddered at the thought of the crew capturing that view and then asking me where they could get other angles on the scene. They can’t. There is only one, highly specific view shaft and that image is taken right on the limits of my camera zoom function.

I said no. Undeterred, she asked me if I recommend other locations. I pointed out that they do grow magnolias in Australia, very well in fact in the Dandenong area outside Melbourne. I have seen them there. No, she replied. She wanted a setting that looked like Chinese countryside. Reader, I cringed. Our maunga can, at a pinch, pass for Mount Fuji in Japan – and has done in the movie ‘The Last Samurai’. The magnolia actually comes from Darjeeling, which is in northern India. I have been to China and seen a bit of their countryside. I do not think she had.

I suggested Auckland Regional Botanic Gardens and there our correspondence ended.

I did not think any more of the matter until my Canberra daughter emailed me saying: “Is this the advert you missed out on providing the pics for?”  I am guessing so. It fits the brief. Air freshener? That is not a product I ever buy. We have plenty of the natural product here. Besides, as those blooms on our Magnolia campbellii are about eight to ten metres up in the air, I have no idea at all whether they are even scented.

Postscript: Mark tells me that he is pretty sure M. campbellii has no scent. Perhaps they were thinking of the Yulan magnolia, M. denudata, he hypothesized. We don’t have it in the garden so I looked it up and yes, it is renowned for its lemon fragrance. That is not the magnolia used in the advertisement. It seems botanical accuracy matters more to us than it does to air freshener manufacturers and Sydney creatives.

A perfect, cloudless morning – Friday 10 July at 8.40am

18 thoughts on “A story of the magnolia, the mountain and air freshener

  1. Vaughan Gallavan

    Great story but greater still your pictures of campbellii and Mt Taranaki. Superb.

  2. Hawi Winter

    Oh, Abbie, I just looove the way you write your stories. Very entertaining and informative at the same time.

  3. Eileen O'Sullivan

    ‘Infused with Himalayan magnolia’. Probably waved over the top, as my mother would say.

  4. dinahmow

    Yes, I laughed. I also did a classic eye-roll, recalling some of the silly things I’ve heard from wedding planners.
    Thank you.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Don’t get me started on weddings…. I once thought we might supplement our garden income with weddings. And then I met Bridezilla. Come to think of it, she had a petulant wedding planner in tow.

  5. Paddy Tobin

    It is an extraordinarily beautiful, if fleeting, view. Worth the effort to capture whenever the clouds allow.

  6. tonytomeo

    In California, we get used to seeing our scenery in all sorts of strange placed, and even on other planets of science fiction movies. Endor, where the Miwoks of Endor live in Star Wars, is just up north from here.

  7. Pattie Colmore Williams

    I would love to hear your story about Bridezilla! We had a similar experience hosting a wedding here. Never again! Loved this story though. Thanks for the laugh Abbie.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      I have met a couple of Bridezillas but the one who treated me like the hired help as she posed for wedding party photos in front of MY house was too much. I can still remember thinking, ‘Lady, you are not paying me anywhere near enough for me to put up with this.’ We don’t do any weddings at all now.

  8. Tim Dutton

    Love the story and I always love that shot when you show it to us in your blog. We’ve had one wedding in our garden: our daughter’s. Bride and guests all behaved impeccably :-). The weather didn’t though as a squall of strong wind and heavy rain came through just as the marriage celebrant was doing the vows. Bride, groom and celebrant were inside the gazebo, the rest of us were sitting on chairs on the lawn outside. We all got rather wet, but not a soul complained! I wouldn’t want to try it as a commercial enterprise.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      We would LOVE any or all of our children to get married in the garden but there are no signs at all of that happening!

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