We planted two Franklinias (Gordonia Alatamaha) in the front yard 6 years ago. They were true to form and flowering in September through October (smelling of vanilla) when their leaves turn crimson. Then after 3 years they began to decline, and after much study I found them to have acquired a ground bred fungus. I wasn't completely surprised because they are perched about 100 feet away from and over a cascade that often floods the valley, brings whatever it picks up to us. I drastic pruned them last Fall down to about 1/3 of their original size, right down to good wood; it hurt me to do it but I knew it was this chance only that would save them.
Here are two photos of them this season, very leafy, in flower and smelling of vanilla again! I hope they continue to thrive. I have included a text on these beautiful, no longer in the wild trees, that I have taken from the original text of Plants That Merit Attention, Volume 1, Trees.
This tree has an interesting history: it was discovered by John Bartram and his son William near Fort Barrington at the mouth of the Altamaha River in Georgia in 1765, and was found again by William in 1773. A few were seen in 1803 by John Lyon, nurseryman and plant hunter, in the same area, and then disappeared from the wild. All known specimens today are direct descendants of those collected by Bartram and planted at his home in Philadelphia. He named the tree for Benjamin Franklin and for the river near which he discovered it growing.