Dieckmann Magnolias

From the porch of Rebekah Hall, you can see history still in the making, growing and ever-changing. In a letter to the College, alumna Adele Dieckmann McKee ’48 retells the stories she heard from her father about planting trees on campus.

Christian W. Dieckmann was a music professor here from 1905 to 1951. He planted the three large southern magnolias (Magnolia grandiflora) that you see in front of you, collecting the seeds from woods that once lined South Candler Street.

southern magnolia blossom

Only the oak family has more trees on campus than the magnolia genus. Unlike its cousins umbrella magnolia (Magnolia tripetala), big leaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla), and saucer magnolia (Magnolia soulangeana), southern magnolia is evergreen. Its leaves make it easy to identify: they are large, dark-green, waxy-looking, and leathery to the touch. Immense creamy-white flowers, lemony in fragrance, adorn these trees in late spring, just in time for reunions and commencement

students tree planters

In the decades since Professor Dieckmann planted these magnolias, Agnes Scott has seen and experienced many changes. For us, therefore, these and other trees serve as a reminder of where we come from, our history. We know the story of the false cypress that began life as a sprig plucked from a floral arrangement. We remember the name of the alumna who donated a dawn redwood to her alma mater. And we can recall the faces and names of the students who, like Professor Dieckmann, have planted trees on campus.

Our trees represent not just our past, however. They also represent our future. Years from now, when alumnae return to Decatur with their families for reunions, someone will point and say, “I passed that tree every morning on my way to class – look how much it has grown!”