Friday, 7 March 2014

Tree following, my Magnolia soulangeana

I have decided to sign up to a new meme called ‘Tree following’ and in my postage stamp size garden I actually have a few trees, the tallest tree, the Red Cedar is just over 9 m (about 30 ft) tall! I also have a rather unusual lilac, and a little conifer that died and now the tree stump is working as an obelisk for an almost 4m tall Passionflower - and I have a tall mature camellia – so big that it is a tree and no longer a bush. I used to have a tall holly tree too, but it had to be taken down when my neighbour built their extension and I am not that sorry to see it go, it was absolutely enormous. But I am not going to ‘follow’ any of these trees in dept, apart from mentioning them perhaps. No, the tree I am going to follow is a magnolia.

I have always wanted a magnolia, but I thought that my tiny garden was way too small for one – where would I put yet another tree, and one that grows like magnolias do? OK, I know they are tiny when you buy them, but small magnolias eventually grow up...

....and become a big magnolia! Oh, isn’t it absolutely lovely? – And twice the size of my garden!

So guess what I did last spring. I bought a magnolia! Oh, don’t worry, I didn’t buy the one in this picture! The trouble with growing magnolias is that they usually grow as multi stemmed shrubs or trees and often end 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

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 at 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.

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 spring 2 years ago, but found only one grower, with astronomical prises, and I half gave up. In January last year I gave it another go, 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.

And just a few days after buying this one, before I had it delivered, I found another single stemmed magnolia online, I just had to have this one too! It comes from a different nursery, is called Magnolia soulangeana 'Red Lucky' and mine is now, one year later, about 150 cm tall, pot included. I might give some updates now and then about 'Red Lucky' too, but I will mainly  write about 'Heaven Scent' – as there is so much more to write about with this more mature tree, at least for now :-)

Here is information I have managed to find about both of them, but since I grow both as single stemmed, final width will be less:

MAGNOLIA x soulangeana 'Red Lucky' - a cultivar from Hong Yun, China, with reddish buds which fade as the very fragrant flowers develop. Flowers can appear 3 times a year in March, June and August. Rapid growth rate. Height and spread - 6m (20ft). Fully hardy - Plant can withstand temperatures down to -15°C (5°F). Synonym Magnolia x soulangeana 'Rubriflora'

MAGNOLIA x soulangeana 'Heaven Scent' - Gresham hybrid with goblet-shaped flowers pink outside and white inside. Strongly lavender scented. Deciduous - broadly elliptic, glossy, mid-green leaves up to 20cm (8in) long. Fully hardy - Plant can withstand temperatures down to -15°C (5°F). Height and Spread - 10m (30ft). Small to medium sized tree. Flowers appear April to May which are richly scented. Narrowly cup shaped flushed pale pink deeper at the base, magenta stripe on back.

And here is 'Heaven Scent' yesterday, on my patio. As my magnolia is a deciduous tree it is completely bare, but with lots of new leaf buds.

The magnolia is growing in this container, and I have surrounded it with same size containers to insulate it against the summer heat – well you never know, we might get another summer like last year! It keeps the roots cooler, and helps to avoid the container drying out.

The magnolia has lots of leaf buds, but more importantly, despite being only first week of March, there are flower buds ready to flower. I don’t think there can be more than days away from flowering, but I don’t really know, this is my first magnolia flowering – it is so exciting!

This is the first time I see my magnolia in flower as it didn’t come with flower buds last year. I have waited a whole year for this sight!

I can’t wait to see the first one fully unfurled, and more importantly, I can’t wait to sniff my magnolia for the first time :-)

This meme is running from the 7t every month so by the time we get to the 7th April I think the whole magnolia flowering will be over and done with. I only have 23 flower buds this first flowering year – I doubt they will last a whole month but anyway, I will post an update photo at the bottom here of the first flower when it’s ready.

I hope you enjoyed seeing my Magnolia soulangeana 'Heaven Scent', I am linking this post to Lucy at Loose and Leafy who’s hosting the ‘Tree following’ meme. If you head over to her you can see a lot of other trees of all sorts and shapes.

Next post about my Magnolia will be first week of April, and by then the tree will look very different. I hope you too will follow my tree, come back in April and have a look :-)
Until next time, take care.

UPDATE:
Here are the first photos of the flowers!
More photos tomorrow on my post for garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.


  

53 comments:

  1. I love Magnolias! I don't have any in my garden, but we donated one to our church when they were adding landscaping plants and had everyone sign up for something. Whenever I see it, I smile. It's a Star Magnolia (M. stellata), so the flowers are different, but the buds are quite similar. I think there are some dwarf hybrids of various species that are quite compact--more like shrubs. Just in case you want another Magnolia. ;-)

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    1. Thanks Beth, but I think two magnolias in my tiny garden is quite enough :-)
      Though I am planning to prune the smaller one very hard to keep it small – not sure how to do it yet so for now it is allowed to grow as it wants!

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  2. Best wishes for your magnolias! They should do well as long as you provide pots large enough for their root systems. Heaven Scent has beautiful buds, and the blooms should be spectacular. I love the magnolias in my own garden; they are great trees!

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    1. Thank you, I hope it will thrive in the tub where I have it, the nursery said the size of tub I have chosen for it would be sufficient for at least 3-4 years before I had to give it a larger one.

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  3. It's really interesting to following the progress time by time, season by season. the progress looks greater than in my climate.

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    1. It is at this time of year my magnolia provides most interest of course, the rest of the summer it is just a green tree, and it is not evergreen like some magnolias so in the winter it looks rather bare. But I think it is worth it all just to see the flowers at this time of year.

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  4. How exicited it must be.to.follow your magnolia. I love the photo s the bud.are so gorgeous and.23 flowersbin the first year is great. I am curious to see how it.is after a week.
    Have a wonderful day helene

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    1. Thanks Marijke, since I have only had the magnolia for a year and this is the first flowering I see, I really haven’t got anything to compare with, I guess 23 flowers is good – but it is a rather big magnolia at 2.5m tall. I can’t wait to see the flowers opened properly!

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  5. The buds are beautiful. I don't think I've ever seen a magnolia as big as the enviable one in the illustration nor knowingly met one as small as yours is now. Looking forward to seeing photos of the flowers. Sorry you expected the Link box would spring up at mid-night. It's there now. (I published it when I woke this morning.) Perhaps I should set it to appear at 7am or 7pm on 7th. But I don't know whether morning or evening would be best. What do you think?

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    1. Thanks Lucy, I will post photos as soon as I have them, they will also appear on my Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day post on the 15th.
      As for the Linky box, you can set it to appear whenever you want, can’t you? You don’t have to actually go in and publish it, you just set a date and time for it to appear. For me personally it would be great if it was published at midnight on the 7th, but if you think it is better at a different time then that’s fine – but it would be great if it was the same time every month so we all know when to look for it :-)

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  6. I look forward to photos when it flowers. They really are beautiful.

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  7. We have a mature magnolia that we planted about 30 years ago. It grew quickly and was damaged when we had some building work done over 20 years ago. After that I trained it as a sort of large bonsai which sounds strange. It's bonsai shaped with the canopy above head height. It grows quickly and need quire severe pruning to keep it within bounds. Incidentally my sister has one that was originally a cutting from my tree

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    1. That’s interesting to hear Sue, because I plan to prune the smaller one, 'Red Lucky' to keep it to less than 5’. I haven’t touched it with the secateurs yet, but should probably start this year. There is very little info about pruning magnolias online, except for NOT to do it - that magnolias should not be pruned except removing crossing or damaged branches.

      When do you prune it? Right after flowering? Do you ever need to seal any wounds?

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    2. I think we have pruned it after it has flowered just so we get the flowers first. Pruning is a very gentle term for what we do. Large branches have been cut back and also any spindly bit too. The 'pruning is more to reduce the spread so it doesn't take over the garden.

      We haven't used anything to seal the wounds.

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  8. 23 flower buds on a young tree is really good going, worth every bit of the money you paid for it. And how exciting waiting for those blooms to unfurl!

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    1. Thanks Jessica, I can see them opening up a bit more every day, not long to go now!

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  9. These buds on your Magnolia 'Heaven Scent' are very promising Helene and 23 buds is quite a lot for the first time flowering. I think it soon will require a larger tub for the root system, they can grow rather fast, but a Magnolia on stem is a real asset for your garden. I am looking forward to see the flowers.

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    1. Thanks Janneke, I hope the magnolia will be happy in this container for a few years and then I will buy the next size up of the same container, I already got one of those in my front garden – after that I don’t know what to buy but that’s so many years till perhaps the magnolia has grown tall enough for me to walk under the canopy. I already have a space in my garden ready for whenever it needs to get in the ground, that space even has snowdrops and crocuses ready in the ground to surround the magnolia :-)

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  10. My next door neighbours are having an extension added to the side of their house and at the same time widening their drive and guess what, a magnificent Magnolia x soulangeana 'Nigra' had to come down. It was about 15' high and around 15' in width, often flowered twice during the year, and would have been around 40 years old. I do not know who screamed loudest, me or the tree, when it was cut down!

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    1. That’s almost criminal! Such a lovely old magnolia!
      Was the magnolia in your garden or in your neighbour’s garden?

      I had a 5m tall holly tree that grew right on the border between my property and my neighbours’, and when my neighbour had their extension built they just hacked off all the branches of the tree hanging on their side of the fence! I didn’t plant the tree, I inherited it with the house, and when I realised they were building the extension I offered to hire a tree surgeon to take down the tree so it would be easier for them to do the building work - and asked them to pay for it. They refused, wouldn’t pay for it, and instead they just went on with their project and hacked off branches as and when they needed. The tree looked awful in the end, with just branches on my side! And of course, it didn’t take long before it started listing and became dangerous, so I ended up having to arrange for having it cut down. I would have been a lot more sad if it was a magnolia rather than just a holly!

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  11. Oh I love magnolias! The way they flower so impressively BEFORE they come into leaf. And then later in the year you have to think hard, looking at the leaves, to work out what sort of tree it is...
    We don't have one of our own but see lots around here in springtime. I look forward to following your "baby".
    All the best :)

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    1. Thanks, I am out looking at my magnolia every day, wondering when the flowers will open up properly – they are taking their time, still tightly closed.

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  12. Lovely tree, looking forward to seeing those buds open out fully. Your garden looks lovely.

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    1. Thanks, my garden is tiny but I have squeezed in quite a few plants :-)

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  13. I have a couple of magnolias and wish I had more. A pink one like yours would be great. Both my magnolias started off as shrubs that I pruned into trees. My experience is that they are very slow growing. The one in the front yard took about ten years to reach about 8-10 feet. So far it is fairly upright (as opposed to having a big canopy) and for that I am grateful. I would hate to have yet another shade garden!
    The Mock Orange is Philadelphus 'Snow Dwarf'. The catalogue describes it as "a compact, multi-stemmed shrub with an upright, arching habit and an extraordinary profusion of 3.8cm (1.5"), double white flowers in clusters of 5 to 7. Hardy to zone 4. Ht. and spread 60-90cm (2-3'). "
    Two to three feet sounds like it might actually fit into your small garden.

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    1. The magnolia ‘Heaven Scent’ is readily available so you should be able to get hold of it – if you have room for one more.
      I tried looking for the Philadelphus 'Snow Dwarf', sadly it doesn’t look like it is available to buy over here yet – I will keep looking, usually it doesn’t take long before plants like that are for sale by online nurseries. I have put it on my wish list, which is getting VERY long!

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  14. A true gardener knows what she wants and figures a way to incorporate it into her space ... good job, Helene! P. x

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    1. Thanks Pam, I am so happy I found my ideal magnolia eventually, I hope it will be happy in my garden – time will tell :-)

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  15. I think you and your Magnolias are going to be very happy Helene. You brought back memories of last year when my M. stellata flowered for the first time - right up until July!
    Those buds look wonderful in their own right, don't you think.

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    1. Thanks Angie, yes I remember you wrote about your stellata, I hope you have loads of buds this year. I am not sure what to expect with my magnolia, especially since it is flowering so early, usually they flower in May, because it is much colder now I suppose I can expect the flowering to last a bit longer – but again, this is my first time, so I don’t really know what to expect!

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  16. What a beautiful garden and magnificent Magnolia. We used to have a M. stellata when we lived in Wales, with mild springs. Magnolia are such fine trees.

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    1. Thanks, stellata is a lovely magnolia too, but a bit big for my tiny garden as it is normally not sold as a single stem - so that’s why I ended up with a ‘Heaven Scent’.

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  17. You've chosen a real gem, scented flowers, a beautiful colour, and totally suitable for your small garden, definitely worth the (very good) price, and who could resist a second when discovered?! Thos buds are s sumptuous colour, can't wait to see the full blooms. I have a Magnolia stellata because it is manageable and I love the scented flowers, but the colour of your buds has me feeling greedy! I'm sure I could fit one in somewhere...

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    1. Thanks Janet, I am sure you could squeeze one in too, all you need is the space a container takes. Unfortunately they don’t sell these as single stem this year at the nursery I bought mine, perhaps if you contact them they might be able to source one for you? The second magnolia is meant as a pruning project, I will attempt to have a go at it later in the spring.

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  18. Hi Helene
    Wow, the big Magnolia Tree looks like out from a fairy tale. Wonderful! Hey, you've already got Magnolia buds in your own garden? Wow, that is early. I've got two magnolias. I guess the Star-Magnolia will need another 2 or 3 weeks to open at least some of her buds. And the other one is a dark purple one (can't remember its name at the moment) that looks rather dead. I had some voles in that part of my garden, hope they haven't damaged it. There is no other way than wait and hope for the best.
    Have a lovely spring Sunday
    Alex

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    1. We have had wonderful weather here in London this week-end, 21 degrees today and one of the magnolia flowers are half open. By the time we get to GBBD I hope to have many to photograph for you all :-)
      Sorry to hear about your magnolia that is in trouble, maybe it will recover? Hope you had just as lovely Sunday as I had, have a good week!

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  19. Helene, your magnolia is spectacular as it is poised to open. That time of anticipation heightens the senses and prepares you for the next stage of beauty. Enjoy!

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    1. Thanks Lee, I have to go out and have a look at it several times a day now – I am eagerly waiting for the flowers to open properly, it is taking its time. But next Saturday is GBBD, I can guaranty you there will be photos of the magnolia there!

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  20. Hi Helene
    I'm glad you were able to fit magnolias into the garden. The buds indicate a gorgeous colour flower - can hardly wait to see them!!

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    1. Thanks Astrid, I keep patrolling my garden, and when I don’t go out I keep watching the tree from my kitchen window, I can just about see the flowers from there. Today one of the flowers opened enough for me to smell the scent, not a lot, just a bit, but enough. Absolutely lovely!

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  21. Your chosen tree is beautiful - i was just wondering how long you would be able to leave it in that sized pot - it will be interesting to see how it progresses.

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    1. I have been advised from the nursery that the magnolia probably will be happy in that pot for about 5 years, and then will need something bigger for the next 3-5 years and then should ideally get in the ground. I will check now and then to make sure it doesn’t get too root bound and I hope the nursery is right about their predictions!

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    2. How big is your pot? Just wondering because I just bought a magnolia the same one as yours and hoping to grow in pot and keep it pruned to make it stay small.

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    3. My container is about 40cm wide and 35cm tall, but this year the magnolia should either be re-potted to a bigger container or get a space in the ground permanently. You should not really prune a magnolia, only cut to shape if you grow a single stemmed one like I have, when it is really small. I bought mine single stemmed from the nursery.

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  22. How exciting to see those buds about to open! I have a fondness for magnolias, too; we had one at our old house, and I miss it. The only problem with it was that it would often bloom before our last big frost. So some years we didn't get to enjoy it for long.

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    1. Thanks Rose, I have wondered about this issue too, and ‘Heaven Scent’ is said to flower in late April or May, so no issue with frost – BUT, mine doesn’t seem to know that as we are still in mid March! This year it isn’t a problem as we have had no frost in London at all this winter, but most years we will have frost at some point in March so I hope my magnolia will flower later in the future.

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  23. I remember you wanted magnolia very much, Helene. And I decided to purchase a magnolia as well! I have one now but it's smaller than yours and has leaf buds not the flower buds. Sure yours is pretty!

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    1. Congratulations Nadezda, so happy to hear that! I look forward to seeing yours in flower, maybe next year? Depends which type you have bought, some flower very young, some have to get quite mature to start flowering.

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  24. Your magnolia is beautiful! I know it was something you really wanted to have in your gardens... congratulations! Larry

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    1. Thanks Larry, I have waited a whole year since buying this magnolia to see the flowers, and finally they are here. Most of the lower flowers are already off, but higher up there are a few left – didn’t last long and a whole year till next time!

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