By Lyn Edwards
The deciduous Magnolias originating mainly from temperate areas of
South East Asia and a few from North America create a wonderful
spectacle with their late winter-early spring flowering on bare
branches on large shrubs and small trees. These are survivors of the
dinosaur age with tepals rather than petals and are pollinated by
insects, mainly beetles.
Suitable for most temperate to cold areas these grow with few problems
from pests and diseases.
An acid well drained soil with mulch to protect the shallow root
system, regular watering and some protection from strong winds is all
that is really required. Wind damages fragile flowers and hot dry winds
in summer cause leaf burn. They do resent disturbance to the root
system so under-planting should be done with care not to cause
damage.The small woodland bulbs, Crocus, Galanthus, Trilliums,
Bluebells and Eranthis thrive with the protection from the heat in
summer here in Canberra.
dead wood and branches in unwanted positions is the only pruning
needed. Problems most likely to be encountered are the predations of
possums and parrots at flowering time and then snails when the tree or
shrub comes into leaf. In autumn the currawongs find the seed pods
irresistible and can do considerable damage to the branchlets breaking
off newly formed flower buds in the process.
star magnolias, white and pink stellata varieties and the hybrids
including Leonard Messel, Merrill and Waterlily are smaller more shrub
like plants and are less damaged by wind at flowering than the larger
saucer shaped flowers of soulangeanas and the newer hybrids with even
Magnolia denudata |
Magnolia Vulcan |
Magnolia denudata with its elegant white lemon scented flowers,
Magnolia x soulangeana varieties and Magnolia liliflora make wonderful
trouble free specimen trees. Of recent years a number of new cultivars
from New Zealand and the USA have become available. The newer Magnolias
have much to recommend them, they tend to flower at an earlier age,
have more vigorous growth and many have very large flowers. Those
listed below are some I have grown and can recommend.
Fast growing Heaven Scent makes a good specimen tree and produces
masses of pink flowers in spring and spot flowers regularly through
summer. Unfortunately it doesn’t live up to its name as it is not
perfumed. Star Wars is also a vigorous growing cultivar with huge
beautiful pale pink flowers. It is spectacular in flower and an
excellent grower. If the garden has space for only one magnolia this
would be the one I would suggest. Sweetheart is another beautiful pink
but does need more protection from hot winds than the hardy Star Wars.
|Magnolia Elizabeth |
|Magnolia Star Wars
One of the first yellow cultivars, though very pale, Elizabeth flowers
later in the spring than many Magnolias and so escapes damage from
spring frost .Yellow Bird has stronger colour but with smaller flowers
opening with the leaves doesn’t have the same impact. Sayonara is a
lovely white and Vulcan with its striking red luminescent flowers in
sunlight is a firm favourite, very high on the “must have” list.
Something very different is Magnolia macrophylla, also deciduous,
the leaves are enormous and so are the cabbage sized white flowers in
early summer. This North American species is a larger tree than those
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