This is an odd spring, very slow, cold and dry. The redbud tree, which usually dominates the east lawn from mid-April has yet to come into flower. On the other hand, the peas are finally up.
We are always the last on the hilltop for things to break bud. I rely on the star magnolias as a gauge, ours is two weeks behind the valley and almost a week behind the other two on the hilltop. The same holds for our saucer magnolia. It doesn’t really make sense, except to demonstrate how complicated the micro environments are. If we look at the saucer magnolias, ours is located on the north lawn in the garden. So it has western exposure, wind/sun block to the east, and is in part shade (almost full sun at the moment, due to the number of deciduous trees). It is also in heavy, wet clay soil in an essentially ‘unimproved’ setting (shrubs, perennials, uncultivated and undrained). The other two magnolias, belonging to a neighbour at the same elevation, also have the same western exposure. To the east they have a wind/sun block, but it is a house rather than trees. The magnolias are also in a heavily fertilized, manicured, turf lawn in full sun. The soil in that area has been improved, cultivated, and thoroughly drained.
Now then, what is the deciding factor? Is it the full sun? Is it that a modern turf lawn heats up much faster so the soil warms faster so the plant blooms that much earlier? If that is the case, then some interesting variables arise concerning heat islands and the commentary about plants blooming earlier than they used to….no question that they are a little earlier, but the accompanying questions are which plants, where, and what has changed in that location?