25th April 2010:
It would be hard to find a more spectacular flowering shrub or tree than the Magnolia. The older soulangeana varieties herald the end of winter with their stunning mass display of purple and white flowers on the bare branches.In small gardens there is always a place for either the bushy star-flowering stellata varieties, the tulip-shaped liliiflora varieties or one of the eight “Little Girls” which are crosses between these two.Magnolias love well drained soil, rich in organic matter. A good feed of organic fertiliser is spring is very beneficial as is a thick layer of mulch. They prefer a slightly acid soil.They have very few pests, but snails and slugs love the foliage. Occasionally scale may be found on the branches. In wet springs, the leaves often suffer from leaf spot. Preventative spraying with a copper fungicide should help, but sometimes it is easier to remove the worst affected leaves.Magnolias are best when grown in a sunny position, too much shade will cause leggy growth and poor flowering. It is best to avoid a very windy position as the flowers, especially the large one, can bruise very easily. The evergreen varieties prefer protection from icy winter winds.
It has to be one of our favourite plants at this time of year and although not the cheapest of plants it should be seen as an investment piece for the future.
My first memory of a mature specimen was at the Nymans Garden in West Sussex if you follow the link below you will see some of the stunning images of this wonderful garden.