Magnolias in Bloom

Posted on by Surprise Highway
Filed under: Flora & Fauna

It is the end of February and spring is here at Blake Garden. The Magnolias are in mid bloom. Some of the early bloomers are just finishing.  M. cylindrica and M. campbellii,  native to China were the first to bloom. The beautiful M. x soulangeana is now coming into full bloom. This garden favorite was developed in 1826 by French plantsman and an officer in Napoleon’s army, Etienne Soulange Bodin.  To create M. x soulangeana he crossed M. denudate and M. liliiflora.  Now over 100 cultivars are known in the trade. So, if you want to buy one of these Tulip Tree cultivars, now is a good time to look in nurseries around here for the color and bloom size you would like to have. In full bloom is M. kobus. It is also known in the trade as M. kobus var. stellata. The common name is Star Magnolia. This small tree is native to Japan.  M. dawsoniana, a native of China, is also in full bloom. M. ‘Milky Way’ is just starting to bloom. This is a small tree (14’-18’)with a big flower (up to 7 inches). It was developed by Felix Jury from New Zealand in 1960 from a cross between M. soulangeana ‘Lennei Alba’ and  M. s. ‘Mark Jury’ (another magnolia Felix developed and is named after his son). Coming into bloom sometime soon is my favorite bush magnolia, M. liliiflora with its burgundy upright, vase shaped flowers.  Also in bud is M. ‘Elizabeth’ with pale yellow flowers. This magnolia is cross from Magnolia acuminate x M. denudate made by Evamarie Sperber and named in honor of Elizabeth Scholz, director of Brooklyn Botanic Garden, in 1978. The genus Magnolia is one of the most ancient of the angiosperms with fossils going back over 60 million years to the Tertiary Period.  One of its pollinators, a beetle in the Nitidulidae family was also common in Tertiary Times. -- Janet De Haven, Blake Garden Gardener