This month's Gardening Gone Wild photo contest is all about flowering trees. I have dug through my archive of American basswood photos and it is official: I have ZERO good pictures of a basswood in flower. How embarrassing! It's not entirely my fault; basswood flowers are kind of sloppy and mushy looking, and since they hang below the branches the photos must be taken pointed up, which gives no perspective on the rest of the tree. Plus, in all honesty, I prefer the trees for their foliage (and of course for their genetic and biogeographic mysteries, soon to be clarified by the Future Dr. Bintie!) and their nifty leafy bracts.
For example, here's a Carolina basswood in southeastern Alabama:
The flowers are just opening, already mobbed with bees. They look like they've been stepped on. (But aren't the leaves gorgeous?)
However, that is not my entry for the contest! Instead I will go conventional and show a magnolia on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago. UIC is an architecturally unfriendly place that only recently was partially deconstructed and made more lush and green, and I applaud the efforts to transform the campus into a more traditional American park-like setting. This particular tree is planted in the UIC Memorial Grove, an odd open space at the corner of campus that was designed by Walter Netsch, the campus architect, in the 1960s. It makes for a pleasant getaway when the lab and office feel too constraining, and the magnolias for their brief moment in a Chicago April are mesmerizing...