In Vase on Monday. Ancient Aristocrats.

In my opinion magnolias are the aristocrats of the tree world and they are the ones with the most ancient lineage. Fossil remains have been found dating back to the Cretaceous period; that is 145-146 million years ago. Get your head round that Creationists! There is a huge variety of  spring-flowering Asiatic species and cultivars available.  I adore them and I have nine varieties but I would like to add to that one day when I am allowed out again. If you have early and later blooming ones then you can enjoy them over several weeks.  These are my early bloomers.

The flowers are born on bare branches and they don’t last long. Unfortunately the earliest flowering can get spoilt by frost. Yesterday, we had hail and even snow for a short time but there are still unscathed buds to open. The starry flowers of Magnolia stellata are looking a bit tatty but its relation the pink Magnolia ‘Leonard Messel’ less so. My most magnificent Magnolia ‘Star Wars’ seems quite unconcerned by the frost and hail and the blooms still look wonderful.

Magnolia ‘Star Wars’

This tree is now ten years old and  is a good size and is full of  huge blooms thanks to the ‘campbelli’ in its breeding. Lucky Cornish people can see these amazing Magnolia campbelli in their gardens but here it is too tender. Besides like the ubiquitous Magnolia soulangeana you have to wait years to get blooms. All the magnolias I have here bloomed when still young.

Magnolias don’t last long in water so I have a short- lived vase on my dining table. I have used a glass Mary Gregory jug for this as I didn’t want any colours to detract from the simple beauty of the magnolias. I used three big flowers of Magnolia ‘Star Wars’, one dark ‘Black Tulip’ and two fluttery flowers of ‘Leonard Messel’ so these are all my favourites.

M.‘Black Tulip’ left, M. Leonard Messel’ centre and M.’Star Wars’ right

As these are such ancient trees I have illustrated this with some fossils.

Magnolias are pollinated by wingless beetles as these existed long before the appearance of butterflies and moths. The flowers have tepals rather than petals which remain closed for several days enabling the beetles to crawl around inside the bloom and get covered in pollen.

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling in the Garden who is bringing a bit of stability into our lives by inviting us to stroll round our gardens and find choice blooms to put in a Vase on Monday. Without this it would be difficult to keep track of the days when each day feels like groundhog day.

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38 Responses to In Vase on Monday. Ancient Aristocrats.

  1. bcparkison says:

    Beautiful A yard full of these would be a wonderland.

  2. I never knew how ancient Magnolias were. It is nice to learn new things. I grow several, but you have a really nice assortment. The largest I have ever see were in Louisiana where the trees and the flowers were huge.

    • Chloris says:

      Your native American grandiflora is a wonderful sight in full bloom isn’t it? But it blooms later and is evergreen unlike these Asiatic ones.

      • Yes, ours are evergreen. I feel they are under utilized in the area. I have a Little Gem which is a dwarf Southern magnolia that flowers heavily in the Spring and puts out flowers occasionally the rest of the year. They are really prefect for the average lot here.

  3. Annette says:

    A beautiful post, Liz, yes, it’s mindblowing to think that dinosaurs nibbled their leaves already and come to think of it, it helps to put thinks into perspective, for me anyway. Because even when the rather sad episode of mankind is over evolution will continue. Gardens have never been as well maintained as this year around here and it has never been so quiet…hope all is well with you both, stay safe xx

    • Chloris says:

      Thank you Annette. I agree, we all worry so much about the planet but the planet will be just fine when we have destroyed ourselves. Yes, our gardens are all going to be wonderful this summer, at least we can share them on our blogs.

  4. Oh my those magnolias are so beautiful. I had no idea they were such ancient species. Wonderful

  5. Lovely photos are really interesting post on magnolias, thanks!

  6. Cathy says:

    Your magnolias are catching up with my witch hazels! It doesn’t sound as if any of us knew they were as ancient as they are Chloris, so thanks for educating us about that. I find the pink ones more attractive too, especially the darker ones like Black Tulip. You have shown them at their best in this little vase, and using fossils as your prop was an inspired addition. Thanks for sharing ps my M Susan seems to flower relative late although she is budding up now,

    • Chloris says:

      Yes, they are an addiction, I wish they lasted longer but I have others to come. That is why I love ‘Susan’ and all the ‘Little Sister’ series because they bloom later and there is less risk of frost damage.

  7. Alison C says:

    I’m thinking about those happy beetles oblivious to the world and enjoying their own special flowers. I’m not sure if I’ve seen a vase of magnolias before but it’s lovely.

  8. Kris Peterson says:

    I’ve long admired these trees, although you seldom see any other than the large evergreen M. grandiflora here. The flowers on those get so high above the ground, it’s hard to enjoy the them close-up. A neighbor down the street planted a pretty, short, deciduous variety with pink flowers and, when I saw it, I became fixated on the idea of growing one of my own. The biggest obstacle is that they require regular water. I wish I could find a dwarf variety I could grow in a large container that I could water without feeling too guilty about my water use.

    • Chloris says:

      Your native Magnolia grandiflora are impressive but they grow so big. A good one for a pot would be Magnolia laevigata ‘Gail’s Favourite’. It might eventually grow too big for a pot but that would take a few years. I think it would be ideal for you as it needs full sun and it is gorgeous.

  9. bittster says:

    I am 100% behind you in a love for magnolias, they’re just beautiful and who really cares about the threat of late frosts. There’s always some disaster on the horizon so we should enjoy each day.
    I’m adding two this spring, it should have been three but there was some crop failure which I only just found out about now. Of course everything else is sold out, so no replacement.
    I don’t care if there’s no room in my yard, I can always become a shade gardener.

    • Chloris says:

      Which ones are you buying? There are so many beautiful ones to chose from.

      • bittster says:

        A smaller pale pink stellata ‘chrysanthemiflora’, and a larger blooming and taller ‘Cosmic Gem’. ‘Sunrise’ was dropped from the order, I really had my heart set on one with some yellow in it…

  10. Oh, I totally agree. When the Magnolias bloom, it’s a magical time. They are so photogenic, too, as your lovely photos show. I don’t have any in my garden, but I so enjoy seeing them at the local botanical gardens and in neighbors’ yards.

  11. There is something very decadent about magnolias in a vase, I am not sure why. They are spectacular. I know I don’t have to pick a favourite, but I always feel obliged. Although a very close run thing, the prize goes to Black Tulip!

    • Chloris says:

      They do feel a bit decadent and they don’t last long in a vase. Star Wars has opened up fully now and is stunning. Black Tulip is the darkest colour and a lovely round flower but I love them all.

  12. Cathy says:

    They are beautiful Chloris. I have always wanted one, but the disappointment if the frost got it would be too great. Just enjoy seeing other people‘s!

    • Chloris says:

      There are some lovely later flowering magnolias called the ‘Little Girl’ series with names like Betty, Jane, Susan and Judy. Susan is the most well known, I have it and it blooms later in April.

  13. Lovely, sometimes it is nice to have an ephemeral vase. I didn’t know they were so ancient, probably growing with ferns and cycads – that would be a beautiful forest. We don’t have the deciduous Magnolias in South Florida, but I am at the southern limit for grandiflora and they are thinly foliaged here. There are many cultivars now mostly the brownbacks and some smaller versions. There are zilllions in Georgia.

  14. Anna says:

    How fabulous Chloris. They are all beautiful. I don’t know which variety it is but I’ve been enjoying the display on a mature specimen in our neighbour’s garden. The flowers are just going over now but it has been beautiful and seems to glow as the light fades.

    • Chloris says:

      The most common one that you see everywhere is Magnolia soulangeana; it is lovely but its drawbacks are that it takes years to bloom and as it blooms early it is often browned by frost.

  15. Very elegant. I think the M. stellata is my favorite, and M. x soulangeana, though that could be partly because they are hardy in Chicago.

    • Chloris says:

      I bet there are more varieties that are hardy with you. For instance, the Little Girl series bloom later than most so the flowers don’t get damaged by frost.

  16. tonytomeo says:

    God certainly was creative hundreds of millions of years ago, and even before that!

  17. Brian Skeys says:

    They are a cheering sight Chloris, I am intrigued by the figure engraved on the glass.

  18. snowbird says:

    I just love magnolia’s and yours are just delightful. Love that arrangement, vase and

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