In my previous post I hinted that I had bought a tree, but not what kind of tree. I guess it is time to reveal what exactly I have bought? For those of you who know my garden well through my many photos, now is possibly the time to start wondering if I have lost my marbles...a tree, in my tiny garden? Where am I going to put it? Well, let me first remind you that I still have my huge conifer at the bottom of my garden, which no one really sees on my photos, only the tree trunk. You can see the conifer in its whole, tall glory on a previous post here. And only 5 months ago I got rid of an 8 m tall holly tree next to my seating area, so my garden is no stranger to trees, but I am not replacing my holly tree with this new purchase, it needs full sun and will have to be placed on the sunny side of my garden.
And guess what I have bought? A magnolia! Oh, don’t worry, I haven’t bought the one in this picture, please relax and read on!! I have always wanted a magnolia, especially after seeing lots and lots of them in Kew Gardens, many years ago. The only trouble is that magnolias usually grows as multi stemmed shrubs or trees and often ends up just as wide as they are tall – very wide and very tall. I’ve always thought they would not be suitable for a postage stamp garden like mine. I found this photo on the web, I don’t usually ‘borrow’ photos on the web, but I must admit that for my post today I have shamelessly borrowed pictures, thank you to all of you who took the pictures, I could not have made this post without these photos as I don’t have a collection of magnolia photos myself.
The thing is, like all plants, magnolias mature too, eventually. And they can get quite big. How big depends on type and variety - and where you look and who you ask. It seems to be quite a discrepancy about final size for the exact same magnolia from different websites. And also about when each magnolia will start to flower, a rather important point – will it flower at age 5 year or 20 year? I have always heard that you plant a magnolia for your grandchildren, not for yourself, so I had given up the thought of having a magnolia in my own garden up until a few years ago.
Here are more examples of mature magnolias, not sure what type and how old they are, but all are multi stemmed and very wide, trees like these would fill most of my garden!
It was therefore with great surprise and joy I discovered that it was possible to grow magnolias as single stemmed trees! My plan is that I will have the single stemmed magnolia in a container for the first 8-10 years on my patio, until the crown is tall enough to walk under, and then I will plant it in the ground in the garden, where all the space I will need will be what I need to dig out in order to plant it. My search started for a grower who could sell me a single stemmed magnolia of some size, as I realised if I was going to buy a small twig and prune it myself and grow it on, it really would be a project for the not-yet-arrived grandchildren to enjoy. I started last spring, but found only one grower, with astronomical prises, and I half gave up. In January this year I gave it another go, much encouraged by one of my fellow bloggers who has a fantastic magnolia collection, Larry at Conrad Art Glass & Gardens. Larry has given me great tips about different types of magnolias and also tips about how to take care of my new purchase once I got it. During February and March I sent off emails to quite a few nurseries here in Britain asking for a mature, single stemmed magnolia, and finally, one of the nurseries had one for me!
And here it is! It is a Magnolia soulangeana 'Heaven Scent', according to the nursery it was supposed to be 150-200 cm tall, but the one I got was 250 cm tall including the 12 L pot! I paid £49.50 including the £8.29 postage, a very reasonable price for such a large tree I think. I got it from Ornamental Trees. I have just checked, the magnolia is out of stock for the season, and they have turned the price up since I bought it, however, I still think it is a good buy.
And just a few days after buying this one, before I had it delivered, I found another single stemmed magnolia online, supposed to only grow to 150 cm tall, I just had to have to this one too! It comes from a different nursery, and despite sending them two emails I still haven’t been able to get them to tell me exactly what variety this magnolia is, I am rather frustrated about that. On the website it just says Magnolia standard, and after enquiring they confirmed what I thought, that this was another Magnolia soulangeana, but they still haven’t been able to tell me which variety of Magnolia soulangeana - obvioulsy not the same as the other one, 'Heaven Scent'. There are over a hundred known named horticultural varieties of Magnolia soulangeana, I really would like to know which variety I have received and why mine is supposed to only grow to 150 cm – which is really short. I am going to send off a third email to them and hope they finally give me an answer, but if anyone else out there has bought this one or knows anything about this particular magnolia, please let me know, I am rather curious. This is where I bought it from. Mine is 115 cm tall now, pot not included, and was delivered bare root, it was not grafted onto a different rootstock.
Here they are, both of them in their proper containers, the 'Heaven Scent' will need to be re-potted into a larger container in a couple of year’s time but I hope they both will have a happy life here on my south facing, sheltered patio.
The big question is of course, will I get any flowers this year?? This is the smaller magnolia and I don’t think there are any flower buds here, just leaves.
But 'Heaven Scent' shows a variety of buds, this one, with a tight closed bud with a leaf already out. I thought magnolias got their flowers first and the leaves afterwards? I am all new to this...
But what about this one? A leaf, and an opened bud with something darker inside, is this maybe, maybe….? A flower?? I have absolutely no idea, the next days and weeks will show eventually, it is so exciting, can’t wait!
Here are some pictures borrowed from the Internet again, all 4 are of 'Heaven Scent', as different as they look - this is what I can expect. Oh, and I haven’t said one word about the scent yet, as the name indicate, the scent is supposed to be heavenly, but as I haven’t had any flowers yet I simply just have to trust the description. I hope I don’t have to wait a whole year to confirm that they actually smell heavenly, just a couple of flowers would be enough for me this year, pretty please :-)
As for the smaller magnolia, it is also supposed to be scented, perhaps not as much as 'Heaven Scent', but I am afraid I will have to be patient and wait until next year to be able to smell its flowers. That’s what gardening is about. Patience!
No doubt you will hear and see more to my new magnolias in the weeks, months and years to come, I hope they will be happy here in my garden although I will probably not see them reach full maturity. Magnolia soulangeana takes 30-50 years to become mature specimens, depending on growing conditions, I’m not sure how long it will take mine two to grow up but I am in no hurry as long as they flower for me every year. I might not have room for them by the time they are fully grown so I am not going to hasten them, I am just going to enjoy their exquisite, beautiful flowers :-)
Until next time, take care.