STUNNER: The magnificent magnolia x soulangeana comes into its own in late winter and early spring, bursting out with large mauve and white goblet-shaped blooms on bare, sculptural branches.As the late winter, early spring garden gradually unfolds its buds,few plants say ‘look at me’ more dramatically than the stunning sculptural blooms ofMagnolia x soulangeana
Named after Professor Pierre Mongol, anearly 18th century director of the botanical gardens in Montpelier in France, magnolias are a large and varied genus of both deciduous and evergreen plants mainly from Asia.
As woodland plants their best growing soils are lime-free, deep and fertile,well drained and aerated with generous amounts of organic matter. Water regularly and mulchannually with a mix of leaf mould, cow manure anda handful of blood and bone.
Propagation can be achieved from summer to autumntip cuttings or simplelayering. Apart from shaping a young shrub according to its habit of growth, pruning is not usually required.
Magnoliax soulangeana(the collective name for a French hybrid from 1820) makes a eye-catching tree in small gardens, growing to around 5m x 4m at maturity on a single trunk with low lateral branches. Winter buds (which might need some protection from possums) open into large, lilac-purple, waxy, petalled goblets, white inside suffused with purple at the base lasting between 3-4 weeks in bloom.
An improved variety ‘Burgundy Glow’ has fragrant flowers of dark purplish pink and white. Magnolia ‘Felix’ features show stopping giant, fragrant hot pink blooms; while Magnolia ‘Black Tulip’ has black/red tulip shaped blooms,and later attractive foliage. Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’ is the first creamy yellow flowered hybrid – a vigorous grower becoming a small upright tree. Varieties ‘Sunburst’ and “Sundance’ are deeper hued.
Often the first to flower in winter and popular as a tubbed plant,Magnolia stellatagrows slowly into a small bushy to medium sized shrub producing masses of star-shaped white flowers.
Although a member of the Magnolia family, the evergreenMichelia figo(commonly known as the port wine magnolia) is not as hardy as the previously mentioned deciduous trees. As a heavily perfumed small creamy-purple flowered screen or container plant it does best in a sunny sheltered site with protection from severe frost.