Last year I bought two lenses: a wide angle and a telescopic zoom. With the benefit of hindsight, I've learned that it takes me about a year's worth of photographs to understand a lens to the point where I can visualize the composition of a photograph prior to picking up the camera. Last year, I spent a lot of time with the telescopic zoom; the plan this year is to learn how to effectively use the wide angle lens. These two photographs illustrate the difference between the lenses. In fact, the same flower appears in both (it is the second flower from the top in the wide angle photo, though actually the topmost on the plant).
In the garden's plant database, this Sargent's magnolia has a parenthetical remark: dark-flowered selection. Appropriately so, compared to what is more typically seen in cultivation, featured in St. Andrews Botanic Garden plant of the month for April 2005: Magnolia sargentiana var. robusta.
Native to the Sichuan province in China, it is interesting to note that the showy Sargent's magnolia has only been known to Western scientists since 1903, when Ernest Wilson encountered it during one of his plant exploration expeditions.
In news for local readers, there might be a few of these magnolias remaining as part of this year's rare magnolia sale. Yesterday, the organizer of the sale mentioned to me that sales have been brisk but they've yet to sell out of all the magnolias available (I'm not certain if Magnolia sargentiana var. robusta is still available, though). I advise calling sooner rather than later if you're planning to add a magnolia to your garden.