Magnolias, by Request

I got an email yesterday from a P’19 who was asking if the Magnolias are in bloom, and hoping to see some pictures if so.  You are in luck.

The Magnolia Quad – aka Manchester Quad – is on south campus.  Surrounding the Mag Quad are the academic buildings (Tribble, Greene, Carswell, and Manchester/Kirby), the Benson University Center, and the south residence halls of Bostwick and Johnson.  And there are a whole lotta magnolia trees on the Quad (hence the name).

5 27 16 mags 5The magnolia trees are tall, with blossoms going all the way to the tops of the trees.  Underneath each tree is a carpet of fallen magnolia leaves – green on one side, a furryish brown on the other.  As they dry, they turn all brown and crunchy on the ground.  The fallen leaves underneath almost look like a Christmas tree skirt.

5 27 16 mags 6The blossoms start as buds and then open to stately white blooms.  The blossoms are large and beautiful.  When you get close to an open one, you can see the petals and the inside of it.  As the flowers start to age, they take on a sort of rusty hue.

And the smell.  Lord, where do I even begin in describing what a magnolia smells like?  The word that comes to mind is “heady.”  The scent is distinct and unmistakeable.  I feel like it has some connection to a gardenia, but not as strong.  It smells lush, heady, and Southern.  Maybe its the humidity here that adds a little extra zing to it, but the scent seems to hang in the air.  I think it smells best at night, when you get the coolness of the evening and the scent of the magnolias.

This morning I took a handful of pictures below of the Mag Quad (see below, with a couple of bonus hydrangeas because they were so gorgeous).  I also took a video of one of the tall mags near Tribble.  There was an occasional crackle of a leaf falling from the top of the tree to the bottom, because the birds were all over the trees.  Here is a second video for those who want more.  When you look at the pictures and videos, from a distance the trees look like they are covered in white Christmas ornaments.  Those, of course, are the flowers.

So try to picture yourselves on the Mag Quad this morning, Deac families.  The air smelled of cut grass – you know when you’ve just mowed and the grass is still slightly damp and you get these clumps of cut grass that lump into mounds and give off that sweet grassy scent?  And the sweet perfume of the magnolias was floating in the air – which was cool and still felt a little bit dewy. The sun was still pretty low on the horizon, so you’d see these rays of light peeking through the trees or between buildings.  Birds were chirping like crazy.  Not much sound otherwise, except some construction equipment in the distance.  It was about as pleasant a place as you could be.

A local alumna and friend of mine, Jennie Harris, posted this on Facebook the other day after an afternoon rain: “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. if Anthropologie sold a candle that smelled like Winston-Salem after a summer rain they wouldn’t be able to keep it on the shelves. Gardenias, magnolias, boxwoods, and the slightest hint of curing tobacco in the air…

She’s right.

For additional reading, Garden and Gun has an article about the Magnolia’s allure that you might enjoy.  And for the record, I am always happy to take blog requests!  I can’t promise I will get to all of them, but I will certainly take note of requests and try to get to them when I can.  On any given day, the Daily Deac content is my best guess at what would be fun/enjoyable/useful, but if there are topics/subjects/pictures you are hoping that I’ll cover, email me at and I will do my best.

Have a great long weekend, Deac families!

— by Betsy Chapman5 27 16 mags 8 5 27 16 mags 9

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Categories: campus life