When we purchased Kilbourne Grove in May 2006, the previous owner left us a housewarming gift. It was a Magnolia ‘Daybreak’. I had not heard of this magnolia before, but it was a very welcome gift, I do have a weakness for them. At that time, it was a very small tree, standing (with the pot), about 4 feet in height, with three branches from the centre trunk.

We planted it in a prominent spot at the  front of our house so the neighbours could enjoy the blossoms as well as the fabulous view we had from the bay window in our front parlour (I don’t know why we call it the front parlour, except the real estate agent used this term, and we have not come up with something better).

That first winter was very hard on the magnolia (and on us too, but that is another story). One of the three branches broke off the main trunk, from the weight of the snow, so now we were two.

The next year, it leafed out, but no flowers. The same happened in 2008, and 2009, but this year, something magical happened.

Two buds, there were two buds, I was ecstatic. They were gorgeous.

The following weekend I arrived to find only one bud, the other one laying on the ground. Who had dared to desecrate my magnolia? If I found out, heads would roll!

I watched!

And it began to unfold.

Now fully open, you can see how much she has lightened up from the buds, which looked quite red.

I don’t want to blind you with a full length shot, but if you must see it….

Don’t say I didn’t warn you!

My poor, sad little Charlie Brown magnolia. She hasn’t grown much since we planted her, I am sure that her roots are just settling in and she is going to spring up. Hopefully, since it appears her flower is as big as she is!


42 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Joy said,

    Deborah girl that one flower was magnificent ! I have a Charlie Brown tree too .. an Austrian Pine trapped in a pot and it gets better every year , even with extreme neglect at times .. but your little one will get much bigger and better slowly but surely girl : )

    • 2

      Joy, hopefully now that her feet are well settled in, her limbs will start growing. I should take my picture by her every year to measure her progress, and see if I start shrinking, lol.

  2. 3

    Racquel said,

    Gorgeous bloom, worth the wait huh? 🙂 Sorry that someone broke the other one off, maybe wind or heavy rain was the culprit.

  3. 5

    Oh, Deborah. That’s quite literally one beautiful bloom. I can imagine a whole tree full of them! Might it be a zonal problem at Kilbourne Grove? Perhaps if you brought it back to T.O. and popped it into a large container, you could enjoy it on your terrace.

    • 6

      Helen, when I moved to Owen Sound, I was surprised (and delighted) to see a large number of old magnolias in town. So I think that they are hardy, maybe she just needs some fertilizer.

  4. 7

    Laurrie said,

    Sometimes young trees languish and have a hard time getting going, then suddenly dazzle you after several years. I’ve had that happen. And your little one is putting all her energy into those gorgeous blossoms. It’s a strain for a young tree to flower like that so early. There’s nothing left for trunk and leaf growth. But she’ll get there!

  5. 9

    barbarapc said,

    What a pretty flower. Magnolias can be pretty trickey to grow in your area. I was astounded when I moved here from the Montreal area to see them here in Oakville – something we couldn’t grow at all. Squirrels can eat magnolia flowers – I’d saddle up the horses and go get’em. Although with just one bud, perhaps this little tree will put more strength into its roots?

    • 10

      I was very (pleasantly) surprised to see magnolias in Owen Sound when we bought the house, I would have thought it would be too cold, but Zone 5B wraps around Lake Huron through Owen Sound, that was a very pleasant surprise. Hopefully, she will now commence growing upward.

  6. 11

    What a sweet little tree!! Beautiful bloom and I suspect she sent it up (well, tried to send 2) to let you know that she’s ok. Hopefully with more time she will mature and fill out. Lovely photos. The ground cover at the base is so pretty.

  7. 13

    Aww…you can tell she’s trying so hard. It’s a truly beautiful bloom, I love the color. I hope she surprises you with a flush of beautiful green foliage very soon, and lots of flowers next spring.

  8. 15

    Sylvana said,

    Magnolias are slow to get going. Looks like you have lots of leaf buds, so your tree is actually doing well. You will most likely get more flowers over the next couple of years. I’ve had my Elizabeth magnolia for 7 years and it hasn’t really grown much at all, and up until this year, it only had four flowers every year.
    This magnolia that you have, by the way, is absolutely magnificent!

    • 16

      Sylvana, I do have lots of leaf buds, and she has actually sent out two very low branches from her trunk, (that are mostly hidden in the sweet woodruff), so she is growing, just very, very slowly.

  9. 17

    Diane said,

    Thanks for visiting my blog. (Yes, a good ‘mislabelling’ incident….I didn’t know it was so common.) Your magnolia is beautiful – even the Charile Brown shot. He he.

    Is Kilbourne Grove what you call your home in Owen Sound? We are searching for a good name for our place, but haven’t found the perfect one yet.

    Cheers from northeastern Ontario!

    • 18

      Diane, Kilbourne Grove is the name of our house. I wrote a post last year, explaining how we came up with the idea. The Kilbourne family built the house orginally (the street was named after them at one time, until Owen Sound went to a numbering system like New York), and when we lived in London, we lived in Westbourne Grove. We combined the two to come up with it. Hope you come up with something for yours.

  10. 19

    D, She is beautiful. And I think that if she was well enough to flower then its a good sign that she is going to keep growing and getting bigger. Beautiful photographs too D, Lovely! M

  11. 21

    That is one beautiful bloom! She is just giving you a peek. She is going to be one LOVELY tree.

  12. 23

    So very pretty! I hope she perks up! We have one that was newly planted when we moved in, 9 years ago and hasn’t grown an inch. I think she doesn’t like our 4b winters very much!

    • 24

      Wow, I didn’t realize the no growth was so common until I published this. I am in Zone 5b, so a bit warmer, and there are a number of large ones around town, so she is probably just thinking about it.
      Thank you for visiting my blog and making a comment, I hope to see you back again soon.

  13. 25

    Congratulations on your bloom!

    When we were kids my Dad planted a fig tree. It grew and grew and never once had any fruit. After we’d all left home, my folks sold up and moved. That year, just as the house sale was confirmed, the bloody tree fruited!

  14. 27

    Barbara H. said,

    What a beautiful gift from the former owners. The flower is magnificent – perhaps it’s the tree saying “Don’t give up on me. I’ll be worth the wait!”. I purchased 3 hydrangeas the first spring I was here. Now, 3 years later, they are all really taking off and making me happy at last. And at least your tree had the flower low enough for you too really, really appreciate it – another gift in itself.

  15. 29

    teza said,

    ‘I need a hero, I’m holding out for a hero til the Daybreak comes to life’ With a gorgeous bloom as such, one can hardly call it pathetic. Time, coddling and patience will bear fabulous results for you. Perhaps a wrapping this winter to protect its remaining branches will aid it along.


  16. 31

    I think she’s telling you she’s happy with that beautiful bloom and not to give up on her! I have many charlie browns – it’s so hard to wait. But I think that one giant bloom makes it all worth it! What a beautiful tree.

  17. 33

    kimberly said,

    Yes, it is a beautiful bloom, and well worth waiting for! I can understand the reason for your weakness! Be patient…she’s simply taking her time, like most belles at the ball!

  18. 35

    Grace said,

    I love these blossoms. Worth the wait? I think so!

  19. 37

    Liisa said,

    A beautiful bloom, worthy of much anticipation. The Magnolia is one of my favorite trees as well, and I recently planted my first. I continually seek out places for another… there are so many beautiful trees it is hard to decide which to plant. Yours looks as though it will recover just fine and I look forward to seeing it progress through the seasons.

    • 38

      Liisa, there are so many beautiful varities and colours now, what one did you plant? I think that you could have a whole garden of just them, they are just so wonderful.

  20. 39

    Jane said,

    I too have a young Daybreak Magnolia which, alas, did not bloom last Spring, but did leaf out beautifully. So, last winter, I swaddled my tree carefully, and now that it has (finally) begun to warm up here in Montreal, I’m unwrapping the tree during the day (before tucking it in every night). There are many buds on the tree, but I don’t know if they are flower or leaf buds (or are they one and the same?). At any rate, not only do I have my fingers crossed that it will bloom this year, but so do all my neighbours!!! I was wondering therefore, with so many eyes trained on my tree, whether you or any of your readers could recommend a fertilizer — and if so, should I fertilize it now?? Many thanks and with great confidence in your and my Charlie Brown magnolias! 🙂 Jane

    • 40

      Jane, you should be able to tell the difference between the leaf and flower buds, if you have both on the tree. They are two different sizes. Mine took three years to flower after it was planted, hopefully it will not stop now. I have never fertilized mine, (perhaps I should be), and googling info on it is confusing. Some recommend fertilizing in the spring, some in the fall, I would go to a nursery in Montreal and ask them. I hope it flowers for you.

      • 41

        Jane said,

        Deborah, thank you *so* much for your reply! I agree that the info on the web re: fertilizing is confusing, and will ask at the nursery where I purchased my tree two springs ago. I do have one quick follow-up question for you, though! And that is, are flower buds bigger than leaf buds, or is the inverse true? I’m afraid that my buds look an awful lot like they did last spring, and they all turned out to be leaf buds. Maybe the third spring is the charm, but I’m going to remain hopeful regardless! I love reading about your gardening/gardens — what a lovely blog! Warmly, Jane

      • 42

        Jane, the flower buds are larger than the leaf buds. I do hope you (and I) get some flowers this year, my fingers are crossed. Thank you for the compliment on my blog/garden, I am itching to get back to canada and into it.

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