Magnolias bring to mind sitting on the porch while drinking iced tea in an effort to cool off from the summer’s heat. But wait, isn’t it early spring, and did we not just have morning temperatures in the low 30s? What are we doing talking about magnolias?
Yes, Virginia, there are magnolias that bloom in the springtime, and they add a wonderful alternative to the iconic cherries that bloom at just about the same time. Here at Arlington, we have a number of varieties that enhance the different landscapes throughout the grounds. At the lower plaza of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (TUS), there are Magnolia silicifolia ‘Wada’s Memory’ that frame the plaza in brilliant white blooms. A little farther down on the left side of the TUS are four varieties—‘Butterfly’ (yellow), ‘Jane’ and ‘Betty’ (purple, left), and 'Sunsation' (light yellow with a red accent)—that are very showy in their own right. Along Roosevelt Drive at the lower end of the TUS mall are Magnolia x stellata, Star Magnolia (white, above), lining both sides of the road with a couple of Magnolia x soulangeana mixed in.
One of the most prolific uses of Magnolia x soulangeana, or Saucer Magnolia (pink and white, above), is around the John F. Kennedy Gravesite. The trees were used to line the walkway to JFK's gravesite, and to provide a pink and white cascade of petals as the trees progress through spring.
The familiar native Magnolia virginiana and the evergreen Magnolia grandiflora are also scattered throughout the cemetery, but we will have to wait until warmer weather sets in before we can enjoy their fragrant blooms.
► For more views of spring blooming at the cemetery, check out our photo album, Spring at ANC 2021.