Magnolias are a great choice for any garden and here’s why . . .
Let’s be honest – most of the time, we gardeners work at ground level. We trim this, weed that, and plant new treasures without giving much thought about the over-story. Yes, we take trees for granted. We appreciate them, enjoy them but on a day-to-day basis, don’t have much to do with them. Until the day comes when we have to choose and plant a new one. Suddenly we’re faced with the responsibility of picking something for the long haul and we desperately want to get it right.
Before you launch yourself into hours of research, consider the neat solution offered by the humble, yet truly magnificent, magnolia. It is a good-looking tree with a clean pale bark. The branching is open and classic. It grows to a size that suits most gardens (meaning it won’t turn into a looming giant). It’s deciduous which is a useful trait where the leaf canopy will screen you from the summer sun then obligingly drop to the ground to make sure you can enjoy the winter light. But best of all, magnolias produce absolutely gorgeous flowers in late winter or spring (depending on where you are).
Some of the most popular on the market today were bred by champion New Zealand plant breeders, the Jury family. With its deep burgundy goblet-shaped flowers, Jury’s Black Tulip™ magnolia offers the darkest and tightest flower on any Tulip Magnolia on the market.
Magnolias are available in a variety of sizes and shapes to fit any garden or landscape. For instance, Jury’s Magnolia Felix® has an upright pyramidal form, growing only to 16 feet high but boasting dozens of flowers that are 12 inches across. Magnolia Burgundy Star™ has an upright columnar growth habit. Growing to only about 11feet high and 3 feet wide, it’s ideal for anyone with limited space.
Magnolia Baby Grand® has a rounded form and growing to only 10 feet, is ideal for a smaller garden or planted in mass to create a shrub border. Baby Grand’s lemon-scented flowers are an added bonus each spring!
Have a favorite color? Magnolias are available in a variety of blossom colors, ranging from deep burgundy and bright pink to soft creamy yellows and mauve. ‘Yellow Bird’ Magnolia was a Brooklyn Botanic Garden introduction and boasts bright canary yellow blossoms and a new Jury Magnolia – Honey Tulip™ – is expected to be available in the US in 2015.
As for their planting and care, it’s very straightforward. Plant a magnolia as you would any tree: giving it a decent sized hole, and lining up the surface of the root ball with the ground level; and be sure to keep up the irrigation to ease the tree’s transition into its new setting. Offer your tree several good handfuls of a controlled release fertilizer each spring and prune only if you spot a seriously crossed branch.
Magnolias welcome a sunny position and most are cold hardy to USDA Zone 5.
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