Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Scent from heaven!

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. 


Magnolia soulangeana standard.


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...


Here is another bud from 'Heaven Scent', this one looks like just leaves and nothing else.


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.

48 comments:

  1. Helene... I wish you great success with your new magnolias!! We had a really warm day finally... 85 degrees fahrenheit believe it or not. Magnolias went from no signs of swelling buds to some actually having open blooms and others showing color in the buds... it's just remarkable. Now it is to get cool again so hopefully they will last a nice long time! I suspect there will be quite a bit of bloom season overlap this year... should be amazing as long as it doesn't freeze and there is no frost in the ten day forecast.... Larry

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    1. Thank you Larry, and thanks again for all your good advice. Night frost might still be an issue here in London, Friday we might get some, but I doubt it will be an issue in my sheltered garden this late in spring, we are in May!

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  2. The tree will be lovely in your garden and should take quite a while to get large. Your post sent me to do some research because our native magnolia in Texas is always a single trunk so I did not know some are multi-trunked. They grow much too large for a city garden and look best as a single specimen with space around them.

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    1. Multi stemmed magnolias are what’s commonly grown here in Britain, it has actually been quite difficult to find this single stemmed one, not many growers opt for doing them this way. Perhaps something to do with which types of magnolias usually grown here?

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  3. These Magnolias which we have over here in our nurseries as well, are lovely, and have a beautiful scent, enjoy your magnolias Helene, I hope they grow well for you.

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    1. Thank you Karen, I can’t wait to see them both in flower :-)

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  4. Good luck with your Magnolias, Helene. They are a magnificent tree, and I love seeing them in peoples gardens, especially when they are in full bloom.

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    1. Thanks Paula, I have always admired them in other people’s gardens too, there are a few around here, now I can admire them in my own!

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  5. Hi Helene, living in London I am not surprised that Magnolia has been on your wish list. The only one that thrives in Aberdeen is Stellata but it isn't a patch on Soulangeana. Good luck with your two, and yes Larry does have a magnificent range of these beauties.

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    1. Stellata is nice too, never seen it as a single stemmed though, so for me it became this one because I was looking for a single stemmed scented magnolia and the M. soulangeana 'Heaven Scent' was the only one I found for sale :-)

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  6. I was wondering about a large tree in your garden! But it seems like you have made the perfect selection(s). I don't have a magnolia, but would absolutely love one. The magnolia that is generally grown around here is magnolia grandiflora, and it gets huge. I love the color of the Heaven Scent, and what a beautiful name! I know you will get many years of enjoyment out of this tree.

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    1. Thanks Holly, grandiflora is a magnificent tree too, if you have a huge garden, and it is evergreen so I would have preferred to have one if I could. But with a mature size of around 90 ft tall I don’t think it would have been a suitable tree for my garden - but they are just gorgeous!

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  7. I didn't know you could get single stemmed ones either - I have always wanted a Magnolia but thought my garden was too small - now it is a possibility

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    1. You certainly can have one, I assume they will get them in stock again from next January or so :-)

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  8. Helene, congrats! Your dream came true!
    I love magnolia as well, and its blooming is wonderful.
    I think it won't flower this year, it needs more roots and power. But the next year... oh, I wonder!
    happy gardening!

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    1. Thank you Nadezda, time will tell if I get any flowers on the tallest one this year, I will post photos if I do!

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  9. Magnolias are so beautiful. I know there are single stemmed Magnolias, but also in our country you don't see them often and you have to order them beforehand at the nurseries. They all grow big, I don't think there are dwarf Magnolias, but it takes time. I have two very big Magnolias in my garden, but it took 20 years to grow them that big. 2 years ago I bought another one which is still small and gave me 3 flowers this year. I wish you a lot of success and pleasure of your Magnolias.

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    1. Thank you Janneke, I am looking for flowers every day now, wondering if any of the buds 'Heaven Scent' came with actually will turn out to be flowers.

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  10. What a clever idea - you will probably start a trend here now we all know about the single stemmed varieties x

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    1. You are free to nick the idea!
      Perhaps if more people asked for them they would not be so difficult to source, and there would be more varieties to choose from :-)

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  11. Wonderful choice! a magnolia is just the right tree for your garden space, not too big, gorgeous big leaves and those flowers..

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    1. Thanks, I am so pleased that I found the right kind of magnolias, I have been looking for a long time!

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  12. Magnolia envy going on here Helene. As Alistair says only Stellata is pretty much all that can cope up here. Mines has a few flower buds but not as many as I had hoped. Only in it's 2nd year here so I'm confident it will improve.
    I'm looking forward to seeing yours in flower! Well done on persevering too!

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    1. Thanks, I am still smiling every time I go outside and see those two magnolias in their containers. I just have to go and look closely for flowers every day, hoping the tallest one will produce at least a couple for me this year since it is quite a mature plant already :-)

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  13. Helene... Regarding your comment on my site, I believe you grow your daffodils in more shade than I do... if that is the case, I wouldn't recommend taking more than a third off, and that no sooner than absolutely necessary... Larry

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    1. OK, I understand, the daffodils I am planning to cut do grow in full sun though, together with my daylilies, so they should be OK. I will leave the ones on my shady side in peace :-)

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  14. How wonderful, Helene! I've always wanted a Magnolia in my garden, too. The Magnolias are in all their glory here in my neighborhood right now. As Larry says (he lives just a bit north of me), we will have several days of cooler weather (10C-15C) during the next few days, so they should be lovely for a while. I will enjoy seeing future posts featuring your Magnolias!

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    1. Thanks, I am so happy with my purchase too, I hope they will thrive in those containers and not get too dry over the summer - if we get a summer this year!

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  15. Not one but 2 new trees! What gardening fun! It seems as if you have made a very careful decision considering the size of your yard. I'm sure both trees will be just fine and you will get much pleasure from them. Congrats!

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    1. Thank you Astrid, can't wait to see them in full flower ;-)

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  16. Hee hee - I saw that first picture and your title, and thought you must have adopted a tree in the forest or something! How interesting to know that you can grow magnolias in that way. What a fun project for you!

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    1. Thanks! Getting my magnolias home was almost like an adoption process, at least I have theme here and can enjoy them every day :-)

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  17. I hope your magnolias give you please. Ours is 30 years or so old and was damaged when we had an extension built which means it ended up the shape of a very large bonsai (if that makes sense). My sister has a cutting from it that is the height of her house now. Apparently you can't grow them from cuttings (says our radio 'expert') so it must be a miracle cutting.

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    1. Great you have managed to make a cutting from your magnolia, I have read it is difficult but not impossible. Layering is supposed to be easier, obviously not so easy with a single stem tree.

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  18. Well done, Helene! The last two yeard I planted two magnolias too. One of them is a star magnolia. The other one is a dark purple and flowers late... don't ask the name because I should first go into the garden and read its Label *shame-on-me*. I love the scent of Magnolia and I can't get enough of admiring those beautiful trees. So I really can't wait to see yours in flower too :o)... and I'm rater sure that he Heavenly one will present you at least one Flower :o).
    Have a lovely evening
    Alex

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    1. Thank you Alex, nice to hear you have two young magnolias too, I bet the dark purple is amazing in flower :-)
      A lovely evening to you too.

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  19. Hi Helene, I must have a single stemmed magnolia after reading your post. 'Heaven Scent' sounds fabulous and was promptly added to my wish list. :-) I look forward to more posts about the magnolias and your lovely garden. All the best!

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    1. Hi Beth, I hope you get one where you live, I think you will have missed the season for this year so just keep it on your wish list for next January or so, possibly as early as November, not sure when they start selling trees like that where you live, you have to ask around.

      Seems quite a few of us can be comparing flowers from 'Heaven Scent' in a few years time then, how fun!

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  20. Magnolias are beautiful trees, but I haven't had much luck with them. There was a small one when we moved into the house, but it succumbed to scale. A couple of our neighbors have star magnolias with lovely white flowers.

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    1. Magnolias need treatments for pests just as any other garden plant, so an infection of scales need regular spraying but the scales will go away eventually. Perhaps you could try again with another magnolia?

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  21. Wow, I looove Magnolias, too:) But I've never seen such a huge one in the first photo! And I can't believe that you got it at such a reasonable price! You're lucky!! It's a shame that I can't get Mgnolias because my garden is too narrow... So, look forward to seeing yours in bloom:)

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    1. I am sure you could grow my smaller magnolia, it will only be 150 cm tall and 40-50 cm wide, depending on how you prune the crown - smaller than many rosebushes! I will keep you all updated on how they both progress, and if they both stick to the size they are supposed to be :-)

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  22. Congratulations on your wonderful new addition! Magnolias are favorites of mine as well.

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  23. Hi Helene

    I grow the similar 'Raspberry Ice'. Like 'Heaven Scent' it's a Magnolia liliflora x M.veitchii hybrid bred by Todd Gresham in California so should be fairly similar in growth habits. I bought mine around 1999 and moved it about three years later which set it back a bit. It was slow to grow at first but has now reached about 15ft total height and about 12ft across. It started flowering after about five years in the ground and has improved every year since. It's just about finished now, having started flowering on the 19th April - but if last year is any guide I may see the odd flower through the summer. Like yours it's on a single stem but I did have to prune out a lower branch that was growing outside the garden and obstructing the pavement. It didn't affect the plant in any way so you should be able to keep yours in bounds.

    Fabulous plants, even if they only flower for a fortnight.

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    1. Thanks for all that info! You say yours started to flower after 5 years, at what height? How tall was it when you bought it? The nursery I bought mine from promised me a few flowers this year and masses next year, but all the buds have opened now and there are no flowers this year. Disappointing, have to wait a whole year to see the flowers.
      I have had so much trouble finding a single stemmed magnolia, would be interesting to know where you bought yours, or did you buy it as a small bush and prune it in shape yourself?
      I can’t wait to see mine in flower!

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    2. It was quite small when I bought it, I then went and planted it in the wrong place and had to move it after a couple of years and it took another couple of years to overcome that setback before the first flower buds started forming. Lesson learned - magnolias hate to be moved. Plant once and leave well alone. It had a short single stem when I got it and I've kept it that way to give me about 4ft clear stem before the first branches come off. I could raise the canopy further but I'm happy with it as it is.

      Yours looks a bit bigger than mine was so you could start seeing buds as early as next year. They're quite distinctive in appearence, fatter and longer than the leaf buds and furry.

      Looking at the plant again this evening I think I was a little optimistic about growth - it's probably nearer 12ft by 10ft.

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    3. Thanks for all your info, I hope to grow Heavenly Scent in a container until I have at least 6' clear stem under the canopy - so I can walk under it. Time will show if that will be possible!

      Oh, by the way, all the leaves are out now, no flowers this year, a bit disappointed about that since the nursery had promised me at least some this year. Have to wait a whole year to see and smell them!

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