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Garden Reports and Rejoicing – January 4

We’ve all seen that term applied to plants, right? “Semi-evergreen” Gardeners come to know that as meaning this might be evergreen where you are or it might not, depending on cold it gets and other environmental factors. To be most accurate the term should be “might-be-evergreen” or “in-some-places-evergreen”.

“Semi” isn’t really here or there. It’s semi-accurate.

I was thinking about this term today as I took a photo of my sweetbay magnolia. It has been, to this point, evergreen. In the past I’ve found that the colder and windier the winter, the faster this plant looses its leaves. Sometimes they look pretty good until March, when they suddenly brown and fall.

This tree is, in my yard anyway, almost evergreen. Nine months out of twelve qualify for a nearly designation, don’t you think?

Unfortunately words set up expectations. The very mention of “evergreen”, be it modified by semi, almost, might-be, or “in-some-places”, makes people want all the same, all year. So what is the problem, the term or our human tendency to want more?

I bought this sweet bay magnolia, Magnolia virginiana 'Moonglow', from Avant Gardens four years ago. It was about two feet tall when it arrived, and now it is over six feet. It's also produced side shoots and I prune some of these away so that it will soon be multi-stemmed. Semi-evergreen: in other words, it's still looking great in early January but there are no promises for the next three months.

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