Mad on Magnolias.

I have got a bit behind with blogging;  the weather has been so wonderful and I have been out in the garden most days working until I’m gibbering with exhaustion and not at my sunniest and sweetest best.

But I can’t let the Magnolia season slip by without posting about them. They have been wonderful this year as there have been no frosts to ruin them. There are so many wonderful varieties that I cannot understand why everyone grows  Magnolia x soulangeana. It is beautiful but there are three drawbacks to planting this Magnolia. It takes years to be full clothed in blooms. Most years April  frosts  turn the flowers brown. Thirdly, everyone else grows it.  Here it is in a neighbour’s garden.

Magnolia x soulangeana

Magnolia x soulangeana

There were no magnolias in this garden, so first of all I planted my beautiful Magnolia ‘Black Tulip’. I brought it with me from my previous garden, so it is 5 years old now and blooming well. Magnolias don’t like root disturbance so I was lucky that it survived. It bloomed the very first year that I bought it. It is not actually black, but very dark pink and the flowers are more the shape of water lilies than tulips. But it is gorgeous.

Magnolia 'Black Tulip'

Magnolia ‘Black Tulip’

Magnolia 'Black Tulip'

Magnolia ‘Black Tulip’

Lovely as the’Black Tulip’ is, if I could only have one Magnolia it would probably be Magnolia ‘Susan’ which is the result of a cross between Magnolia liliflora ‘Nigra’ and Magnolia stellata ‘Rosea’. It is  covered with dark pink, scented flowers. My tree is only a year old, but here is a picture of the one in my friend’s garden.

Magnolia 'Susan'

Magnolia ‘Susan’

I have one of Susan’s parents in my garden; Magnolia liliflora ‘Nigra’. My previous garden had been a nursery and there were 23 different magnolias growing in the garden. I layered this one so that I had a young plant to bring with me. This is the best and easiest way to propagate them. They do produce beautiful seeds some years. A seedling appeared in my previous garden much to my delight. I waited more than 8 years and at last it bloomed but it was a total disappointment with tiny white flowers.

Magnolia liliflora is later -flowering than many magnolias and I took these photos today. The bud is very dark so you can see how it gets its name ‘Nigra’.

Magnolia liliflora 'Nigra'

Magnolia liliflora ‘Nigra’

Magnolia liliflora 'Nigra'

Magnolia liliflora ‘Nigra’

I have Susan’s other parent Magnolia stellata in white. The star magnolia makes a bush rather than a tree so it is suitable for smaller gardens.

Magnolia stellata

Magnolia stellata

Another Magnolia with  fluttery star-like flowers is Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’.  The flowers are pale pink and gorgeous so this is another favourite.

Magnolia x loebneri 'Leonard Messel'

Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’

Some years ago I visited the late Princess Sturdza’s magnificent garden, Le Vasterival near Dieppe in France. She grew many beautiful magnolias, but she told me her favourite was Magnolia ‘Star Wars’. As she was a gardener of great discernment I took her advice and bought this wonderful tree. It is fast growing and produces its large flowers whilst still young. My tree is 4 years old and has 16 flowers this year. ( Do all gardeners count their flowers?) It comes from New Zealand and is a cross between Magnolia campbelli and Magnolia liliflora. The chalice shaped flowers are rose-pink and fragrant.

Magnolia 'Star Wars''

Magnolia ‘Star Wars”

Magnolia 'Star Wars'

Magnolia ‘Star Wars’

Magnolia wilsonii is a very late flowering deliciously scented magnolia which blooms in May so I will show you that another day.

So until recently I had these 7 magnolias. And then I had a sudden rush of blood to my head and realised that 7 is just not enough, so now I have 10. Please dear blogger friends, remind me next year that I have enough magnolias now and I don’t need any more. I have no room for any more. No more magnolias.

Here are my new ones. Last year I saw the beautiful Magnolia Wada’s Memory’ in the arboretum at The Place for Plants, East Bergholt and I have been wanting one ever since. It makes a pyramidal shaped tree and is covered in large, pure white, fluttery, star-shaped flowers.  It reminds me of a handkerchief tree. When I went in Autumn I noticed that the leaves had turned gold. My little tree has 2 flowers.

Magnolia 'Wada's Memory'

Magnolia ‘Wada’s Memory’

Peter, theoutlawgardener made me realise I really needed the beautiful yellow Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’. Clearly no magnolia collection is complete without a yellow one and it is gorgeous. It has 6 flowers on it. I love magnolias that don’t keep you waiting for their blooms.

Magnolia 'Elizabeth'

Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’

My latest purchase was classified as a Michelia until recently but now it is Magnolia laevifolia ‘Gail’s Favourite’. It is a shrub with dark green leaves which are rust on the underside. The nice brown, velvety buds open up into masses of sweetly smelling, creamy -white flowers. It is still in bud, so I will show you what it looks like in flower another day.

Magnolia laevifolia 'Gail's Favourite'

Magnolia laevifolia ‘Gail’s Favourite’

So now you’ve seen my collection, maybe you can see why I am mad on magnolias. But I must not buy any more. That’s it. Enough. Really.

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60 Responses to Mad on Magnolias.

  1. Sadly, a forecast frost tonight is undoubtedly going to zap the small M. soulangeana that is in my Temporary Garden. I’ve had M. stellata in prior gardens and much prefer that one, especially sited against a dark background, and have vowed to someday have ‘Elizabeth’ in the future. Thank you for the lovely photos!

  2. Maybe you need some Cornus cultivars…

    • Chloris says:

      I love flowering Cornus but I think they perhaps need a soil which is more acid and moister than mine. But perhaps you are right. I used to have a beautiful pink one called ‘ Cherokee Chief’. Maybe I will try it in this garden.

  3. Alison says:

    This post about all your Magnolias was delightful! I adore Magnolia trees too, but until recently had none. I bought M. laevifolia last year, so far no flowers on it, but it’s alive at least. Just yesterday I planted my second Magnolia, a bigleaf Magnolia. So glad you took Peter’s advice and got the yellow one! I know how you feel ab out the weather and working hard in the garden, I’ve been doing that too. At the end of the day I’m usually hankering for chocolate, not wine.

    • Chloris says:

      Chocolate is all very nice and indeed addictive, but for me, after a long day’ s work, nothing quite hits the spot like a nice glass of wine.
      I’ m surprised you have no flowers on your M. laevifolia. My new one is still small but it is full of nice plump buds. I hope it is going to prove hardy.

  4. Tina says:

    Well, they are absolutely beautiful, as are your photos. You have so much variety, too. You mentioned that you had no frosts this winter. If there was a freezing spell, would they flower? If so, when?

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Tina. We have had plenty of frosts this Winter and the buds are fine in their suede- like jackets. Fortunately we have had no frosts this April and it is these late frosts that turn the flowers brown. It ruins the Camellia flowers too and stops the Wisteria buds in their tracks. But this year all is well.

  5. Oh gosh, you have a wonderful collection. I recognize some of those as varieties included in the local arboretum’s display. I know they have some of the “sisters”–Elizabeth and Susan, for example. And, of course, M. stellata, which is very common in gardens around here. ‘Star Wars’ is wonderful! I enjoy just about any Magnolia, including soulangeana. But, of course, we have the frost issues here in the Northern U.S., too. Again–amazing collection!

    • Chloris says:

      I love them all too, that is the problem. If you have frost problems, then a later flowering one like M. laevifolia or wilsonii would probably suit your garden.

  6. Kris P says:

    Your post has me asking myself why I haven’t tried a Magnolia other than the M. x grandiflora I inherited with our current house. I just flipped through my western garden guide and found a LOT of varieties that will grow here, including a couple of deciduous yellow varieties I’d love to have. Their water neediness and height has dampened (no pun intended) my initial enthusiasm but perhaps the current drought will end in my lifetime and perhaps my tree-averse neighbor will go away one day.

    • Chloris says:

      They wouldn’t get spoilt by frost in your garden. But they do need plenty of water and really suffer if they are allowed to dry out.
      The drought you are experiencing sounds really scary, specially when underground aquifers are being used up at such an alarming rate.

  7. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Gorgeous pictures! So many beautiful magnolias, so little space. I’m so glad you got ‘Elizabeth’ ! My Magnolia laevifolia is blooming profusely (It’s first time with me as it was planted last summer) and I can often be found with my nose near those intoxicating flowers!
    There’s always room for another magnolia. How about an evergreen Magnolia grandiflora and you’d love the huge leaves and gigantic flowers of Magnolia macrophylla!

    • Chloris says:

      The Magnolia laevigata is new to me this year, it was recommended by a nursery man who came to give a talk to my Garden Club. Mine is full of buds.
      Oh no, I definitely have no room for a grandiflora. What a shame. But it does need wall protection here. I used to have one and those huge waxy, lemon- scented blooms are divine.

  8. Brian Skeys says:

    You have great collection of Magnolias, the bud on ‘Nigra’ is stunning. So no more then!!

  9. Cathy says:

    That’s a lovely collection. I like the white star-shaped ones just as much as the traditional big tulip ones and the colour of Nigra is really gorgeous. 10 is a nice round number to stop at…. but there are dwarf ones too, aren’t there? 😉

    • Chloris says:

      Stellata doesn’ t grow too big, at least it is slow- growing, and there is a variety called Jane Platt that I would love. If I had room for another one.

  10. mattb325 says:

    I adore the Magnolias and your collection is wonderfully enviable! I also really like the darker varieties, and the white ones, and the yellow one, and the plain old x soulangeana one, so I would probably be the last person to be relied upon for helping you to stop purchasing more 🙂

  11. Julie says:

    I have the soulangeana Magnolia, currently looking just like your neighbours. When we moved here I was certain that it was going to be removed but its still standing. I really like all of your choices but especially ‘Elizabeth’, she really is very beautiful. The last one you have shown us is interesting and does not look like a Magnolia at all, it reminds me more of Eucalyptus. Your photos are really lovely too.

    • Chloris says:

      Magnolia soulangeana does look wonderful on a mature tree when the blooms are untouched by frost. If I had found one in my garden I would certainly have kept it.

  12. Julie says:

    I forgot to say how much I liked your illustration, I know just how you feel and also look pretty much like that at this time of year!

  13. Flighty says:

    A lovely post, and wonderful pictures, about magnificent magnolias which have done noticeably well this year. I’m sure that you won’t be surprised to say that I like the look of ‘Elizabeth’! xx

  14. Angie says:

    Drool, drool, drool! This has been a wonderful look at your collection Chloris and it’s hardly surprising you have so many, I would too given the right conditions. What an incredible looking tree M. Wada’s Memory is. I don’t think I’ve seen this one before.
    I presently only grow M. stellata and it has now just about made the height that I can see it clearly from the kitchen window. I am toying with the idea of trying either M. Butterflies or Solar Flare for something just a bit different but first need to have a chat with the nursery for some advice before I take the plunge.

    • Chloris says:

      Wada’ s Memory stopped me in my tracks when I saw it. I will have to be patient though to wait until mine is big enough to be such a show. I don’ t know Butterflies or Solar Flare but I have just looked them up and I see they are both yellow. They both look lovely.

  15. rusty duck says:

    I would love to add another magnolia, as soon as I can find somewhere to put it. I have Leonard Messel which has had six blooms this year (a garden record!) and the summer one, M sieboldii. Nigra is pushing my buttons, and Elizabeth.

  16. Alain says:

    The cartoon catches perfectly how I felt after a long tiring day in the garden.

  17. Your Magnolia collection is just wonderful. And I also count the flowers on new woody plants, not to mention the number of individual raspberries on my handful of canes.

  18. Sarah says:

    There is just something quite special about magnolias: the colour, the texture and the scent of the flowers; the shapeliness of the trees themselves; the toffee-coloured autumn leaves and the furry coats protecting the flowers through the winter. I just have one magnolia stellata but I enjoy it all year round. A bit of welcome rain here in the south east last night, which is good news for all my direct sowings at the allotment. But I am not complaining about this beautiful spring, hasn’t it been wonderful?

    • Chloris says:

      Indeed, it is a long time since we had such a wonderful April. We have rain forecast for tomorrow which is a relief. Do you have facilities for watering at your allotment?

      • Sarah says:

        Fortunately yes, but we are charged extra for water so we do use it wisely. Unravelling 200 feet of hose or lugging cans of water from the tap is my least favourite part of allotmenteering so I water as little as possible and even in this dry spring I’ve only watered seed drills before sowing (everything including the parsnips has germinated beautifully) and when transplanting broad beans and sweet peas.

  19. a wonderful collection of magnolias. I would not have room for one in my garden, but have been admiring them in other gardens. I really love the pink ones especially ‘Nigra’ which is stunning.

  20. Anna says:

    I’m so glad that the weather here has turned first wet and then noticeably cooler here this afternoon. I’m not catching up with the housework but with blog reading 🙂 I think that I remember waxing lyrical about your magnolias last year Chloris. You have more!!! I quite understand the fatal attraction – they are fabulous when in flower. Is that another one of your daughter in law’s illustrations? It made me chuckle.

    • Chloris says:

      It is still lovely here but I think we are in for some wetter, cooler weather. The magnolias are a joy and if you choose the right varieties you have blooms over a long time.
      The illustration is actually a birthday card sent to me by a friend. She has me well summed up, except I never, ever garden in pearls.

  21. snowbird says:

    Lol….I have NO doubt that you will buy more!!! I love your collection and can see why you love them so! Leonard Messel and star wars are lovely, I also fell in love with Magnolia stellata.
    Your caption had me laughing, I’m glad you’ve have some good weather and some lovely long gardening days!
    I have three teeny tiny magnolia which I have planted in the old hedgerow border…..sadly I have lost their labels so will be posting asking you to identify them for me, probably in about five years when they grow a bit!!!xxx

  22. Chloris says:

    I hope you had wonderful weather in Italy. I hope you don’ t have to wait 5 years for your magnolias to look good. My Star Wars is only 4 years old and so is Leonard Messel.

  23. Debra says:

    As always — gorgeous photos. Thank you. And thank you for the laugh! You have a great collection of magnolias. I only have the one but it is looking like it will be a good year for it. I’ve never seen so many flower buds before. Mine is just the native variety. It is a real treat to see your exotic varieties.

  24. bittster says:

    Your magnolias are beautiful, but what is one more when you already have ten? Perhaps some will not thrive and you’ll have wasted several years without numbers 12 and 13?
    If ‘Vulcan’ was hardy enough for my garden I would have to have it, and I now know I need ‘Wada’s Memory’. What a special effect it makes with those blooms! I’m hoping to find out what too many magnolias feels like, but for now the budget won’t let me….

    • Chloris says:

      I have just looked Vulcan up, oh dear it is gorgeous. I too need to buy food. I would happily go hungry for a Magnolia but I don’t think I can expect other people to share my peculiarities.

  25. Annette says:

    What a stunning selection! Wish I had room for more of them…ours have finished flowering – I’ve just Leonard Messel and Waterlily, a stellata cultivar. Gibbering with exhaustion…yes, I know that feeling and I’m afraid, one glass of wine won’t do the job, especially since I’ve spotted the box and winter moth caterpillars 😉

  26. I’m partial to ‘Elizabeth’ also. Looking forward to seeing the blooms of ‘Gail’s Favourite’. Are you sure 10 is enough? I saw your weather is taking a turn for the worst this week, hope it doesn’t get too cold.

  27. Chloris says:

    I think 10 should be enough because I also really need more Malus and maybe another Prunus or two. It has turned cooler here, but no frosts and we have had some much needed rain.

  28. Gorgeous – all of them! But my favorite magnolia is the old southern giant. I even have two framed prints of magnolias in my living room. But I do wish I had room for one of these beauties. 🙂

  29. I have just purchased my first Magnolia and I am hoping that it is Susan. It was from a nursery close to me where everything is grown on site and it can be a bit of a shambles, some of the plants lose their labels. This unnamed pot was completely root bound and the leaves were looking stressed but for £8 I decided to give it a home, as I could see the buds were dark dark pink but not tulip shaped. I rather like the look of the pale yellow one, rather refreshing after all those pinks. Great photos Chloris.

  30. Christina says:

    Your Magnolias are wonderful Liz, I sometimes think your garden is a bit like the Tardis – you have so many different varieties of so many things and yet your garden didn’t feel so big when I visited!

    • Chloris says:

      I like to pack them in. As I keep saying, I don’ t do minimalist. And I am developing the bottom half of the garden which was just orchard when you came.

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