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.
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.
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.