Monthly Archives: July 2012

Garden Conversation Piece

Garden Conversation Piece

The view from my kitchen window called for a beautified screen. I searched for just the right plant; height and width were requirements. I had no idea what I was looking for until lunch at my friend Mary’s included a tour of her garden; there it stood.

I never heard of a Bracken Brown before, so considering it is something not every garden offered immediately attracted me. I am always drawn to the unusual or just plain different.

“It’s related to the Magnolia,” she said. “It can get up to thirty feet tall and serve your need to hide any unsightliness. It prefers a protected area and partial shade.”

“Perfect! I can’t wait to go to the nursery; this is the ideal plant I have hoping to find. Pricey?” I asked.

“It just depends, as normally you can find them in various sizes,” Mary was as enthused as I.

Returning home by way of a stop at the mailbox, I pulled a coupon for the nursery from between other advertisements and letters. “Forty percent off one nursery item” was printed in red letters. I was on my way.

“We just got a shipment in this morning,” the young man chided. “This is an excellent plant, glossy-leafed, brown on the back. That is where it got its name.”

He was right about its magnificence but research proved its genus name honors French botanist, Pierre Magnol (1638-1715). A southern evergreen, and noted for its leathery leaves and large white flowers, it makes a sophisticated statement. It is reliably winter hardy and has a dense, narrow, pyramidal-oval crown. The bi-color foliage is ideal for those holiday wreath creations and it doesn’t mind lending a few leaves to the projects.

No serious insect or disease problems are noted. Frequent watering during dry spells should allow the plant to produce spherical cone-like fruited clusters in the fall and cup-shaped flowers (four to six inches in diameter), in the spring and continue to bloom through summer.

My view, from the kitchen window, is met with unexpected wonder and the Bracken Brown’s mysterious stages of growth.