Chariton's magnolias, spurred by this premature spring, exploded into bloom over the weekend --- two to three weeks early and worrying because of that. But pretty anyhow.
These are not classic southern magnolias, incapable of surviving Iowa's winters; but varieties that adapt and do very well here.
The most common is Saucer Magnolia, sometimes called Tulip Tree Magnolia, both names related to the shape of the blossoms, technically Magnolia soulangeana.
Although scattered all over town, these were blooming in the Chariton Memorial Arboretum --- a pretty area sometimes mistaken for the back yard of the Southgate Apartments.
Star Magnolia, or Magnolia stellata, is less common here, perhaps because its blossoms are paler and not quite as dramatic.
Hesitant to invade the lawns of others, I found this one blooming alongside a vacant (and available) house in the northeast part of town.
Merrill Magnolia, the third variety that thrives in southern Iowa, presents as pure white. This one is blooming in front of the Alternative School on West Court Avenue, but yesterday's high winds had been a little hard on it.
Rain seems to be in the forecast for much of the week, not the ideal situation for magnolia viewing. But if you're going to do it --- this is the week.
Forsythia also has begun to bloom bright yellow, but I didn't stop at Yocom Park --- the site of the best Forsythia show in town because of the banks of them planted there years ago, probably as part of the park's original landscaping scheme.
Fruiting trees have not begun to bloom, but at this rate it won't be long.
I'd imagine the largest collection of southern Iowa weather worriers this year live in Pella, where thousands to tulips bred to bloom during early May for the annual Tulip Time festival also are far ahead of schedule. This year's event is scheduled for May 5-12, but there's no way to slow the tulips down or move the festival up.