Magnolia stellata’s primitive multi-petaled, milk-white and blush-striped blooms are the first flowers to fully unfurl within our garden shrubberies. Eighteen petals fall free of their furry calyx, multiplied by hundreds, to paint this small tree brightly. She stands along our second terraced garden stretching easterly amongst sentient statues of Apples and Birch yet to exhale their buds at the time these photographs were taken. A gift of Peace from Japan to the United States, Magnolia stellata’s tiny white flags quietly wave with the wind and her presence on our hillside offers a placid passage from the snowy chill of winter into the riot of warmer colors to come when spring’s breath covers the landscape. I love to sit beneath the many stars and look towards the other trees nearby.