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Hello Yellow

Magnolia danudata. Photo by Daphne McLeod

During a walk in the DuBose Gardens, Chapel Hill, NC, in March, my artist friend, Daphne McLeod, discovered a magnolia tree with YELLOW blossoms. Magnolia danudata, known as the Yulan magnolia, (native to Yulan, China), has only recently been imported here, though it's been cultivated in Chinese Buddhist temple gardens since 600 AD.

Magnolia danudata, "naked magnolia," is so called because it blossoms before it leaves. Its stunning yellow blooms don't appear until year three.

Here's Daphne:

I mean, if it was a cake, it'd be lemon pound cake and I'd have to take a bite!

Daphne McLeod with Magnolia danudata. Photo by Bob McLeod

...why not - it'd be SUGAR-FREE! Ha! The stamens in the middle are a striking deep yellow. And... it smells so good, too - rich and fruity like a melon. I'm still wanting to eat it!

In her melodious Louisiana drawl, Daphne would exclaim, "it looks like butah!"

My garden friends tease me about my relationship to yellow. They'll declare, "Barbara Clare doesn't like yellow." Actually, I do like yellow, it simply depends on the exact hue's intensity and its location.

For instance, in my bearded iris garden bed, saturated butter yellow irises next to watery peach irises I found jarring. (Solution? I'm giving away my yellow irises.) In that context, the saturated yellow dominated the more delicate hues in the bed. Not a team player, that banana yellow threw off the entire color scheme.

However, I do love a field of daffodils of various hues and saturation. A drift of those yellows works just fine for me.

Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow Spurge,' Euphorbia myrsinites 'Donkeytail Spurge' and phlox paniculata. Photo by Barbara Clare

Right now in my garden, I'm delighted by the yellow being offered by my Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow Spurge,' Euphorbia myrsinites 'Donkeytail Spurge,' and Huechera 'Citronelle.' The bright limey yellow tones of the spurge wake up that garden bed and provide a striking complementary contrast to the lavender creeping phlox that borders them.

Heuchera 'Citronelle.' Photo by Barbara Clare

I adore my Heuchera 'Citronelle.' Year-round, it brightens a corner of my patio, providing me with daily pleasure.

After all, yellow is the happiest of hues.

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