Nature Studies by Michael McCarthy. From The Independent, Friday, 18 March 2011
Small marvels are a comfort sometimes. In a week of dire disasters and wars across the world, there are no headlines announcing that the magnolias have just flowered. But so they have.
In my part of suburban west London, the great upright buds, fat as light bulbs, are bursting open everywhere and turning into enormous, blowsy blooms on the leafless branches of their trees. They seem far too exotic to be English and indeed they are not; their natural home is split between two far more glamorous parts of the world, in botanical terms, Asia and Central America (including the southern USA), but the intrepid efforts of plant collectors over the last two centuries have brought many of the 200-odd species back to Britain, where they have flourished. (continued HERE).