The Mighty Magnolia

The Mighty Magnolia

The wide variety of Evergreen Magnolias available to us are growing all the time, as plant importers listen to their buyers who demand; hardy, pest free, attractive plants to make a visual feature  and, at the same time, meet a practical requirement in their garden.  They can now be found all over the world in warmer zones.

The Evergreen Magnolia is the road scholar of the horticultural world.  It has it all!

Large white showy flowers that are lemon citronella – scented sit on a plump backdrop of striking dark green glossy leaves on the surface, and in contrast rusty undersides and usually possesses a dramatic form.  This combination make plant people go wobbly at the knees.  Their subtle beauty doesn’t produce a flush of flowers but produces occasional flowers over a long time that sit beautifully with the almost equally beautiful foliage.  They flower in late spring, and they appear to spot flower throughout the summer months, though they can take about seven years to flower.

Evergreen Magnolias will grow well in most parts of Australia from Rockhampton in Queensland, around the southern coast to Geraldton in Western Australia. I’ve seen them growing happily in our colder climates so I know they’re frost tolerant, once established. In my experience, they don’t thrive in locations of strong warm winds, and prefer rich well drained organically enriched moist soils that are more acid.

How I use Magnolias There are many cultivars of Evergreen Magnolias, and all of these are derived from Magnolia grandiflora. This dignified specimen tree originates from south eastern parts of North America.  Magnolia grandiflora is a majestic tree, growing to at least 20 metres and unless you want to go into battle with it to try and control its size, it is best suited to very large gardens and parks.  All the Evergreen Magnolias tend to discard their old leaves as new ones appear, so this ‘perfect’ group of trees can accumulate mess or provide a great mulch over the garden depending on your view.

There is a Magnolia for every requirement and many of them overlap in their application.

Anyone who knows of my work, knows that trees form an integral part of the design, playing a critical role in scale, as I like to layer plants, and provide soothing shade, that counteracts our hot climate. I use trees as feature trees, pot specimens, screening, pleaching, grove plantings, avenue plantings, and espaliering. There appears to be an Evergreen Magnolia for every purpose and of course, this is how I like to use Magnolias, there are no rules and Magnolia species interchange in their use.

Do you have a Magnolia in your garden?

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