The first gardening job I had was working for the summer at Park and Tilford Gardens in North Vancouver. II was lucky as it was like an 4 month extension of education for me. Park And Tilford Gardens was at one time a well know distiller of the same name which was sold and turned into a shopping center on the condition that it kept the well known garden there. The tiny space which is the garden had been neglected and then reclaimed to opened to the public. The space is made up of 8 small themed gardens in a 3 acre site.
It was particular famous for it’s collection of Magnolia trees. As you moved from the display garden into the the colonnade on the right side was a shrub like tree with large attractive smooth green leaves that is now beginning it season of bloom. This is the beautiful Magnolia sieboldii or Oyama Magnolia. It slowly blooms over a longer period than most other Magnolias which is only one of it’s many features.
One thing that makes Magnolia siboldii attractive is that their flowers droop down so you look up into them. This downward facing flower is one of the features which shows off it’s attractive interior structure which is very primitive and found in Magnolia species. the bizarre cone-like carpel is surrounded by many thick stamen which range from a rich dark blood red to a pale flesh color. There are both color forms in the Victoria area. The difference in stamen color tell us where the plant comes from. The plants which have the fleshy colored stamens are likely to originate in Japan(Honshu to Shikoku through to the Kyushu Islands) or southern China( Anhui, Fujian and Guangxi) and are designated as Magnolia sieboldii subsp. japonica. The red stamen plants come from a wider area including Korea and northern China(Manchuria) and are Magnolia sieboldii subsp. sieboldii.
Oyama Magnolias are usually low multi-stemmed shrub trees which are wider than they are tall, growing 3.5m(10ft) by 4m(12ft) wide. The best placement of these trees is a elevated so the flowers are more visible. In Victoria the best location for this is most surprising, in a retail shopping center. Look behind the Harris Green Village Shopping Center on View Street, at the bottom of the steps and going up into the shopping area there are several including a large one at the the top along the sunnier wall. These are the pale stamen form. If you want to see the dark red form of Magnolia sieboldii there is one in Beacon Hill Park along the stream which runs between Goodacre and Fountain Lakes which parallel Blanchard Street. make sure you visit this species of Magnolia in the evening when it’s fragrance is most potent.
This is one Magnolia which is a forest dweller who does not like full sun. All the Oyama Magnolias I have ever seen have been in sites which are sheltered from midday sun which would burn their leaves. Care must be taken whenever you plant a Magnolia as it has fleshy brittle roots which can easily break, this is the time of most danger for these trees. they like fertile, moisture retentive soil which has some humus in it. It needs adequate water during the dry season here for good growth. Do to it’s delicate roots it is not advisable to plant underneath(the trees in the above picture are under-planted with Pacysandra, a lush ground cover). Treat this tree as a specimen in your garden as it will be loved by all who see it.
Oyama Magnolias bloom slowly over several months, from May sometimes into early August. They are hardy to -20c(-5f) in North America but in their native setting have been known to withstand -40c(-40f). They are rated zone 6 through 8 here.
More Information on Siebolds’ Magnolia:
More information why this is a great plant: http://www.greatplantpicks.org/display?id=2619&searchterm=all
On the Magnolia flower structure: http://waynesword.palomar.edu/trmar98c.htm
Park & Tilford Garden: http://www.greatervancouverparks.com/ParkTilford01.html
Beacon Hill park map showing it’s features: http://www.beaconhillparkhistory.org/graphics/mapsA.htm
Until We Meet Agian Later This Week: