Magnolia heaven at Rowallane Garden
Did you know ? The Magnolia belongs a very old family of plants which go back to the dinosaur era, the flowers encouraged beetles to pollinate them as bees had not evolved, some fossilised specimens show to be 20 million years old. The structure of the flowers is extremely tough as you can imagine and their petals are actually known as tepals! They have a wide distribution with distinct types in Central and Eastern Asia, the Americas and West Indies.
Scent is uncommon in some species but when they have it is such a blessing. Usually very sweet and invocative and carries well when the air temperature lifts. Our Magnolia dawsoniana in the Outer Walled Garden flowering in late March is a treasure to behold, and in June experience Magnolia x watsonii in the inner Walled Garden has a unusual distinctive scent which is likened to the Germoline cream used for cuts and gashes!
Over the years Magnolia trees have been hybridised to encourage smaller plants more suitable for our gardens today, but most species can be large trees, we have one in the Walled Garden flowering in April which is the size of a beech tree, and is a beautiful when the pink candle shaped flowers are seen from a distance on the naked branches. If you haven’t got that amount of space, choose a beauty such as the Japanese Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)as it is slow growing, it is easy to grow and gives an oriental feel to a garden when maturing.
Choosing and Pruning
Magnolias dislike lime, so if you can grow Camellias or Rhododendron plants then Magnolias will be happy with you too. Choose a good spot of soil where the plant will be able to mature without disturbance, allow room all around and check the mature size of the plant on the nursery label - remember you can plant bulbs and smaller plants underneath it- so that you don’t need to prune it as it grows too big for your space. Magnolias can be spoiled by pruning as the shape defines character, only remove dead or damaged wood, so they are pretty maintenance free.