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My Pink Garden Stars. Magnolia stellata, Star Magnolia, Our Garden, Venlo, The Netherlands

Yes, of course! That World Horticultural Expo, the Floriade 2012, just across the River to the west, is absolutely Tops and Marvelous. I’d almost neglect our own Garden with its pleasant pond and prettty Lawn Daisies and Flowering Spring Shrubs and happy Blackbirds on the grass and the faithful Duck Couple that comes back each year and much more...

Here’s Magnolia stellata, Star Magnolia. It’s native to Japan. That intrepid traveller and naturalist Carl Peter Thunberg (1743-1828), ‘the Japanese Linnaeus’, describes it under another name; he’d seen it during his relatively short stay as the medical officer of the Dutch ‘factory’ at Dejima, Nagasaki, 1775-1776. Half a century or so later the great doctor and naturalist, anthropologist and diplomatic adventurer, fine scholar and collector Philipp Franz von Siebold (1797-1848) - stationed at Nagasaki by Dutch Colonial Authorities 1823-1829 and again 1859-1861 - tried to export our fine shrub together with other botanical specimens to Europe. A Japanese embargo stopped that! Siebold’s botanical collaborator in Europe, Joseph Gerhard Zuccarini (1797-1848), working from herbarium specimens, gave a description of this pretty shrub in 1845/6 but under the name Buergeria stellata. ‘Buergeria’ is after Heinrich Bürger (1806-1858), first Siebold’s assistant in Japan and then his successor ‘de flora hujus terrae optimus merite’. It was only through the efforts of George Rogers Hall (1822-1899) in the early 1860s that this shrub was introduced to North America, and later in the ‘70s to England and Europe.

The shrub in our garden isn’t really very large, but it was already here when we came to the house many years ago. Each spring my heart leaps up when I behold it’s pink beauty!

It brings stars to my eyes.

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Taken on April 8, 2012