It was a disappointment,

For I do not like magenta,

And the garden was a fire of magenta

Exploding like a bomb into the light-colored peace of a spring afternoon.

Not wistaria dropping through Spanish moss,

Not cherokees sprinkling the tops of trees with moon-shaped stars,

Not the little pricked-out blooms of banksia roses,

Could quench the flare of raw magenta.

Rubens women shaking the fatness of their bodies

In an opulent egotism

Till the curves and colors of flesh

Are nauseous to the sight,

So this magenta.


Reeking with sensuality,

Bestial, obscene—

I remember you as something to be forgotten.

But I cherish the smooth sweep of the colorless river,

And the thin, clear song of the red-winged blackbirds

In the marsh-grasses on the opposite bank.

Amy Lowell (1874–1925) was born in Boston in 1874, and turned to poetry in 1902, becoming a major figure in the early twentieth-century’s imagist movement. “Magnolia Gardens” was published in the December 1922 issue of Poetry (vol. XXI no. III).

From “free” to “friend”…

Established in 1911 as the Bulletin of Popular Information, Arnoldia has long been a definitive forum for conversations about temperate woody plants and their landscapes. In 2022, we rolled out a new vision for the magazine as a vigorous forum for tales of plant exploration, behind-the-scenes glimpses of botanical research, and deep dives into the history of gardens, landscapes, and science. The new Arnoldia includes poetry, visual art, and literary essays, following the human imagination wherever it entangles with trees.

It takes resources to gather and nurture these new voices, and we depend on the support of our member-subscribers to make it possible. But membership means more: by becoming a member of the Arnold Arboretum, you help to keep our collection vibrant and our research and educational mission active. Through the pages of Arnoldia, you can take part in the life of this free-to-all landscape whether you live next door or an ocean away.

For more tree-entangled art, science, and writing, subscribe to Arnoldia by becoming a member of the Arnold Arboretum.