About the time this month’s issue of The Madison Park Times lands in your mailbox, you may be taking a stroll though the neighborhood. You’ll spot a lawn or sidewalk beneath which colorful petals in rose, pink and cream are heavily strewn, as if the procession of some ancient potentate were about to commence.

What you are seeing is just one of the great shows put on throughout the year by Magnonlia x soulangeana, commonly called Saucer Magnolia or Tulip Tree.

For the last month this tree has been covered with large, tulip-shaped blossoms, which emerged before the leaves, putting on a spectacle that makes it easy to understand why the plant is so frequently included in gardens — private and public — and never bemoaned for being too common.

Let’s start at the beginning of the year. In January, as through the winter, this magnolia is a gracefully spreading bouquet of branches that curve and divide in a tracery of smooth black lines. Look up and through them and our gray seasonal skies look like marble. About February, large, fuzzy, silvery-gray buds plump up to herald the coming of spring. Then the flowers open. It is no cliché to call the explosion breathtaking.

Then the blossoms fall apart and the petals fall to the ground in a polychromatic litter that is almost as beautiful as the blossoms on the trees.

Next the leaves emerge: papery ovals in chartreuse. They unfurl. And as spring turns to summer, the foliage darkens and thickens, forming a dark umbrella to shade the summer garden, clattering gently in the warm wind.

Come autumn, the tree goes rich golden yellow, and then the leaves drop exposing that poetic form.

Relatively long-lived, Magnolia x soulangeana will reach 25 feet in height, spreading out as wide or wider than it is tall. While it is considered in the nursery trade, “a garden scale tree” give it room to be the focal point it should be in any home landscape.

It is a cross between the towering Magnolia denudata and the upright, but lower-growing Magnolia liliiflora, known for its large flowers. It is one of the great hybrids of the horticultural world.

You can put this tree in your garden this month. Numerous named varieties are available in nurseries. While bloom colors are somewhat different from one named selection to the next, and flowering times might come sooner or later by a few weeks, all members of this family share an unmistakable similarity that unites them.

Site any new planting where it will get ample sun. It will nicely fill the northeast corner of a garden, stretching tall and wide in time, catching the low winter light. It will be completely happy in our rich, acid soil and, once established (in two or thee years) will be content with the precipitation our climate gives it in all but the driest summers.

Don’t fret if the plant does not bloom for the first few years. It can take 10 or 15 years before magnolias are mature enough to flower, but the plants you buy in nurseries are usually five to eight years old when you bring them home. Never the matter, it is well worth any wait. In time the year-long show will begin. And when you see that carpet of color beneath your tree you’ll wonder if the show is wrapping up or if it is just beginning.

What you are seeing is just one of the great shows put on throughout the year by Magnonlia x soulangeana, commonly called Saucer Magnolia or Tulip Tree.

For the last month this tree has been covered with large, tulip-shaped blossoms, which emerged before the leaves, putting on a spectacle that makes it easy to understand why the plant is so frequently included in gardens — private and public — and never bemoaned for being too common.

Let’s start at the beginning of the year. In January, as through the winter, this magnolia is a gracefully spreading bouquet of branches that curve and divide in a tracery of smooth black lines. Look up and through them and our gray seasonal skies look like marble. About February, large, fuzzy, silvery-gray buds plump up to herald the coming of spring. Then the flowers open. It is no cliché to call the explosion breathtaking.

Then the blossoms fall apart and the petals fall to the ground in a polychromatic litter that is almost as beautiful as the blossoms on the trees.

Next the leaves emerge: papery ovals in chartreuse. They unfurl. And as spring turns to summer, the foliage darkens and thickens, forming a dark umbrella to shade the summer garden, clattering gently in the warm wind.

Come autumn, the tree goes rich golden yellow, and then the leaves drop exposing that poetic form.

Relatively long-lived, Magnolia x soulangeana will reach 25 feet in height, spreading out as wide or wider than it is tall. While it is considered in the nursery trade, “a garden scale tree” give it room to be the focal point it should be in any home landscape.

It is a cross between the towering Magnolia denudata and the upright, but lower-growing Magnolia liliiflora, known for its large flowers. It is one of the great hybrids of the horticultural world.

You can put this tree in your garden this month. Numerous named varieties are available in nurseries. While bloom colors are somewhat different from one named selection to the next, and flowering times might come sooner or later by a few weeks, all members of this family share an unmistakable similarity that unites them.

Site any new planting where it will get ample sun. It will nicely fill the northeast corner of a garden, stretching tall and wide in time, catching the low winter light. It will be completely happy in our rich, acid soil and, once established (in two or thee years) will be content with the precipitation our climate gives it in all but the driest summers.

Don’t fret if the plant does not bloom for the first few years. It can take 10 or 15 years before magnolias are mature enough to flower, but the plants you buy in nurseries are usually five to eight years old when you bring them home. Never the matter, it is well worth any wait. In time the year-long show will begin. And when you see that carpet of color beneath your tree you’ll wonder if the show is wrapping up or if it is just beginning.