The picture said it all. Instead of standing guard as she had for almost 200 years, the massive yellow cucumber magnolia lay stretched across the lawn near the Peirce Dupont House in Longwood Gardens. Tearful arborists gathered to say goodbye, embraced her, remembered.
I first learned about this magnificent state champion tree a few years ago as a volunteer for Founders’ Day activities. I marveled at her strength and beauty, and after learning about her history, always made it a point to say hello when walking by on a visit to the Gardens. I learned just last week that she fell during a windstorm that swept through the region. Imagine wind gusts strong enough to bring down an 86-foot tall tree! Imagine the secrets she shared and the stories she whispered through the wind!
This story reminded of another beloved champion tree, Herbie, I first read about in 2012. Herbie was a mighty elm who stood for 200 years in Yarmouth, Maine, that finally succumbed to disease and had to be taken down. Nature provides many lessons in perseverance, strength, loyalty, and love if we are open to learning them.
Longwood’s magnolia may be gone, but she lives on. From the Longwood Gardens blog:
Happily, in recent years we have propagated this beloved tree and planted resulting trees throughout the Gardens—meaning these new trees will honor their fallen ancestor in the form of new growth and a strong future.
Farewell, my friend.