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Magnolias Are In Fashion

Magnolias (named after French botanist Pierre Magnol) don’t just happen overnight, but their blooms seem to. One minute there is nothing happening in the garden then, just as the first buds are thinking to start to get going on the bare hedges and trees, the magnificent leafless magnolias are in varieties of bloom with a great burst out.

MagnoliasM. denudata from wikimedia: zones 5b-8a

Those that are evergreen tend to proceed at a more leisurely pace. There are over a hundred species of Magnoliaceae and hundreds of varieties, from spindly bushes to sturdy tall trees that can live for hundreds of years. They are believed to have evolved before bees did and therefore the design favors pollination by beetles and the tough colorful tepals (not sepals and petals) withstand insect attack.

Magnolia-loebneriM. loebleri from locavac: zones 5-9

They have always been popular due to their striking flowers, but now, with the creation of many new hybrid varieties they are grabbing more and more attention.

Daphne‘Daphne’ from klaasvanmanen: zones 5-6

Most like a temperate climate and prefer slightly acid soil, although M. stellata, M. grandiflora and x soulangeana are lime-tolerant. They need very little attention beyond normal watering.

magnolia treeM. Sieboldii from klaasvanmanen: zones 6-7

Magnolias have been around for over 100 million years, so they know how to look after themselves.

butterflies‘Butterflies’ from thehoneytreenursery: to zone 4b

The petals of M. grandiflora are edible, with a rather intense flavor, and they are usually only eaten after pickling, and then typically when sprinkled as a flavoring on salads.

coral reef magnolia‘Coral reef’ from thehoneytreenursery: zones 5-8

If you are tempted to plant a magnolia specimen, do be aware of its growth form. They do not usually take kindly to pruning and, in general you should aim for one of the smaller varieties, such as those from the Honey Tree Nursery.

JanePlattM. stellata ‘Jane Platt’ from thehoneytreenursery: to 5b

….and some of the new varieties are quite extraordinary.

Magnolia-Black-Tulip‘Black tulip’ from thehoneytreenursery: to zone 5a

Magnolia Jane‘Blazing Beauty from thehoneytreenursery: to zone 5b

The perfect time to check out is when magnolias are in bloom, but pictures and catalogues can be a good guide.

Featured image: M. soulageana (zones 6-10) from The Daily Mail


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