Magnolia: Easy but Choice

As March comes to an end and the sun begins to start regularly showing its face again, its safe to say we’re going to be in for a period of enjoyable weather in the coming weeks and monthsAlthough spring seemingly started earlier with help from a mild winter, the early warm weather has certainly helped plants get a head start – the tulips have already begun bursting into flower!

The same can be said of Magnolia which are just coming into their best and are a sure sign that spring is well underway. We’re in for a lovely flowering period from these beautiful trees at the Aberglasney this year.  Many that haven’t flowered before are set to do so this year which is a real treat and gives a welcome boost to our overall display. 

White Magnolia 'Centennial' tree in flower in the Valley Garden at Aberglasney Gardens
Magnolia ‘Centennial’

Choosing a variety to suit your garden 

Today, there are hundreds of types of Magnolia to choose from and most that are available to buy are hardy (it’s only the more specialist nurseries who stock tender types). Within the wide choice of hardy Magnolia, a gardener’s biggest concern should be the size of the plant and its colour, although care should be taken to avoid plants with weak or damaged grafts. Many varieties and species will become very large trees and as such are better suited to the scale of a public garden, park or arboretum. That said, there’s a huge range of smaller, home garden friendly Magnolia available. 

Magnolia grandiflora 

Magnolia grandiflora is a large type that, even as a mature plant, suffers in a cold winter. At one point we were afraid we’d lose a large specimen of Magnolia grandiflora ‘Glassoniere’ from Aberglasney one particularly cold year. Fortunately, it did survive and recovered beautifully in time.  

Magnolia stellata 

These are well-suited to home gardens as they remain small and have hundreds of flowers each spring. ‘Centennial’ does very well at Aberglasney although is a little later to flower than others.  

White Magnolia 'Centennial' in flower at Aberglasney Gardens
Magnolia ‘Centennial’ flower

Magnolia ‘Ballerina’ 

Another lovely white flowered Magnolia is ‘Ballerina’ which flowers later in the season giving the added advantage that its flowers usually avoid frost damage. Over the last two years there’s been no frost damage to the those at the Gardens which has been a great help to their development. Another brilliant plus side to ‘Ballerina’ is that it flowers on a small plant and will continue doing so for many years.  

White Magnolia 'Ballerina' in flower at Aberglasney Gardens
Magnolia ‘Ballerina’

Magnolia ‘Felix Jury’ 

Magnolia ‘Felix Jury’ is another type that flowers on a small plant and has been especially good here this year, having nearly twenty flowers on a plant that’s about seven feet tall. The flowers are very large and are a beautiful deep pink colour. This hybrid has a very long flowering season.  

Magenta pink Magnolia 'Felix Jury' in flower at Aberglasney Gardens
Magnolia ‘Felix Jury’

Magnolia ‘Goldstar’  

In recent years, many new yellow Magnolia have been developed. ‘Goldstar’ is an excellent one that also has a nice long flowering season. There’s many other varieties to choose from but these are just a few examples that are doing great at Aberglasney.  

Golden yellow Magnolia 'Goldstar' in flower at Aberglasney Gardens
Magnolia ‘Goldstar’

Where to buy Magnolia  

The best place to buy them is at a specialist nursery where they have the expertise to help you choose the right type and size for your garden. One of the best things to do when choosing a tree or shrub is to look at one in a public garden or someone else’s garden so that you can see what a mature specimen looks like.  As always a great place to make a start is on the RHS plant finder.

 

Magnolia are a fantastic mid-spring plant for any garden and are real horticultural aristocrats. Fortunately, they’re also a lot easier to grow than most people realise.  The next few weeks will be the perfect time to enjoy Magnolias as they’ll be out in full force. One of their other perks is that you can enjoy other people’s as you drive past their gardens and outdoor spaces. 

 

Tips for the Week:

  1. Get outside and enjoy the Magnolia whilst they’re in flower
  2. For early salad leaves, sow densely in pots and keep under cover 
  3. As the grass starts growing feed it if necessary 
  4. Early potatoes can be planted but be sure to warm the soil first 
  5. Deadhead bulbs as this will really help strengthen them for next year