Research for Folded Dreams – it’s not all about things that go bump in the night!
As I was reading over my manuscript for the novel, I noticed that there might be a discrepancy between the season portrayed – autumn – and the presence of ‘massive flower buds’ on the character’s magnolia tree. Being a Florida resident where everything grows all year ’round, it had never occurred to me until now that it might be an issue.
‘Ava paused, pen still poised over the paper, to stare out of the livingroom window. There were angry black clouds on the horizon, roiling across the sky in her direction, and a cruel wind was whipping her beautiful magnolia tree all around, as if it was being beaten by a giant hand. She watched as massive flower buds went flying from the branches in every direction and jumped when one hit her plate glass window with a sharp “thwap!” ‘
For the most part, the Southern Magnolia – m. grandiflora – (typically a more tropical flowering tree) will bud in late winter in preparation for a showy array of huge, beautifully fragranced, creamy white flowers in early spring. But I had forgotten that even Florida experiences fairly cold weather and that the magnolia does go dormant at those times…gasp!
In Folded Dreams, this particular autumn is relatively mild, with balmy breezes and only the scent of fall in the air, but plant life – like humans – can follow Nature’s clock, regardless of how she’s acting. It stands to reason that there is a possibility that my magnolia shouldn’t oughtta have buds or even “fruits”, those leftover pods after the tree has flowered.
For all that I try to make sure the majority of science, history, technologies and terminologies are believable in Folded Dreams, it would be a heck of a note that I screwed up something as simple as whether or not this tree has ever been known to set, bloom or fruit in November, even if the temperatures cooperated!
” ‘M. grandiflora’ is a large, rounded evergreen shrub or tree with glossy dark green, leathery, oblong-elliptic leaves, often rusty-brown beneath, and highly fragrant, cup-shaped, cream flowers to 25cm across in late summer and autumn. In warm summers, these can be followed by striking, knobbly seed pods, from which bright red seeds emerge in early to late autumn. “
Whew! I don’t have to change those two chapters. Folded Dreams is safe – and the magnolia tree can go on thrashing about in the angry winds and throw all the buds at Ava that it cares to!