07900 902017

Simon Smith Garden & Landscape Design

In praise of Magnolia

27 April 2021

I like Magnolias. I like their fluffy, elegantly shaped tactile buds. They have beautiful flowers and they bring a garden to life. They have the most amazing tough petals that are silky to the touch. In evolutionary terms they are among the most ancient of flowers. Flowers first evolved about 200M years ago. Magnolias appeared some 95M years ago. Flowers and flower structures have been evolving ever since. So, Magnolias look good. They have heritage and what’s more if chosen carefully they will add a wow factor to your garden!

Having made my case for planting Magnolias let’s address the question of what should we plant?

I have two Magnolias in my garden, Magnolia ‘Susan’ and the Magnolia stellata. The former produces abundant deep pink-purple flowers in April – June and its erect habit makes it good for a small garden. The latter is a native of Japan. This really is a ‘star plant’. It is a compact Magnolia of lovely pristine white ‘star’ flowers that grow from the loveliest furry buds.

Another small plant you could try is Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’. Often sold as a shrub with a mature height of 1 -3m. It is one of the prettiest magnolias and produces white lilac flowers in spring. According to Mike Glover author of the Barcham’s catalogue “it is one of the pick of garden magnolias”, high praise indeed.

Now we move on to some of the larger trees. A good example is the evergreen Magnolia grandiflora. These grow to a mature height of 7 -12m and produce large flowers from summer through to autumn. Then there is Magnolia kobus. Introduced in 1865 from Japan, it is hardy and versatile. It attains a height of 7-12m at maturity. It has very large white flowers (up to 10cm across) as early as March.

Magnolias are simply stunning. There is a variety to choose from in terms of flowering times, flower colour, height, structure and evergreen or deciduous habit. Will you buy a single trunk or a multi stem? All tree planting needs a bit of planning so take your time. Make a list and/or notes. Find a good nursery supplier. Finally, if you wish to view this wonderful group of plants try a visit to either the Cambridge Botanic Gardens or Kew Gardens. Their scientific research and conservation work always need our support.

Next time I’ll be writing about something else. I haven’t decided yet!

If you need help get in touch: [email protected] or 07900 902017.

Follow me on Twitter: @SimonSmithGLD and Instagram: simonsmithgld