Magnolias are a very old group of plants originating from over 20 million years ago and have evolved to be pollinated by beetles rather than bees.
Magnolias can be shrubs or large trees. Most produce scented blooms that are either sculpted like a goblet or loosely star-shaped in form and can be seen in a variety of colours including yellows and purples. Deciduous magnolias usually bloom in spring on bare stems, and this pure spectacle of flowers lures garden lovers from late February to early autumn, with March to May being perhaps their finest time.
Nymans has a fantastic collection of rare and unusual magnolias, some of which were collected in China in the early 1900s by the renowned plant hunter Ernest Henry Wilson (Chinese Wilson). This includes the magnificent Magnolia sargentiana var. robusta which can be found on the tennis lawn.
We have many Champion Magnolias at Nymans. A Champion Tree is one which is the tallest, or has the largest girth of its species in Britain and Ireland. Magnolia x veitchii ‘Alba’ and Magnolia sargentiana are two of these and can be seen standing proud and in full flower, reaching heights of 17m. The first of these was raised at the royal nurseries of Peter C.M Veitch in 1907 and was planted at Nymans around 1918.
Carrying on the tradition of hybridisation and plant naming, Nymans has five Magnolias named after people connected to the garden: Magnolia x loebneri ‘Leonard Messel’, Magnolia ‘Thomas Messel’, Magnolia ‘Michael Rosse’, Magnolia ‘Anne Rosse’ and Magnolia denudata ‘Cecil Nice’. Cecil Nice was Head Gardener at Nymans from 1953 to 1980 and his magnolia has beautiful flowers with soft pink petals. The original tree can be seen in the wall garden.