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Posts Tagged ‘Magnolias’

One type of plant which I really did not know when I was growing up were broad-leaved evergreens. You know the kind I mean, the leaved trees and shrubs which do not shed their foliage in autumn. I grew up in an area where this kind of plant had to grow below the snow line, the only native plant which fitted into this category were less than 30cm(12in.) high. Here in the mild west coast there are many broad-leaved evergreens, most are shrubs with only a few trees. One of these trees which I first saw in Vancouver was the impressive and beautiful Magnolia grandiflora (Southern Magnolia).

Magnolia grandiflora iss named for it's huge flowers which can be up to 30cm(12in) in diameter.

Magnolia grandiflora iss named for it's huge flowers which can be up to 30cm(12in) in diameter.

Southern Magnolias are indeed true southerners as they grow in the south-eastern United States from Florida up the coast to Virgina and west through Arkansas and Texas. It is a wide area and is found in a variety of locations which all usually have increased moisture. Often they are found on the edges of water, and swamps, along slopes and ravines and in floodplains, all these sites are good sources of water which are quickly drained.

Some of my relative are impressed with the massive flowers of the Southern Magnolia seen at Finnerty Gardens.

Some of my relative are impressed with the massive flowers of the Southern Magnolia seen at Finnerty Gardens.

Magnolia grandiflora was first brought to the garden world in 1726 by Mark Catesby(1682-1749). he was an English naturalist and always had an interest in collecting oddities.  To this end he travelled to Virginia to visit his sister in 1712. While he was there he collected seed and plant samples which he brought back to a nursery in London in 1719. In 1722  he was selected by the Royal Society to collect plant samples in Carolina. Catesby again came to North American and collected  plant and bird samples from the east coast and the West Indies. From his samples he later published ‘Natural History’ in folio style between 1733 and 1746. This folio was the first of its kind and was very influential. Many of his specimens ended up in the collection Hans Sloane who later gave everything to the British Museum.

The foliage of the Southern Magnolia is beautiful.

The foliage of the Southern Magnolia is beautiful.

Magnolia grandiflora has in the past been an important source of timber and was used in many ways;  for furniture, boxes, venetian blinds, sashes, doors and veneers. The characteristic qualities of the wood are that it is fairly hard, stiff and has little shrinkage.  The wood has a pleasing color with the sapwood being of a pale yellow tone and the heartwood being a deeper brown. The tree itself is one of several Magnolia species which were used in North America in a medicinal way. The foliage is now used by florists who appreciate its sturdy quality and the beautiful rust colored indumentum on the undersides of the leaves.

Magnolia grandiflora is the state tree and flower of Mississippi and is the state flower of Louisiana.

Magnolia grandiflora is the state tree and flower of Mississippi and is the state flower of Louisiana.

Magnolias are a very ancient plant and their seed heads have an almost reptilian quality to them, although here I have never seen ripened seed of Magnolia grandiflora. They seem to have evolved before bees existed and the flowers are designed to be pollinated by beetles. The name ‘Magnolia’ refers to Pierre Magnol who was a French Botanist who was the first person to use the concept of plant families for classification purposes. ‘Grandiflora’ not surprisingly refers to the giant sized flowers.

The unusual seed head of Magnolia grandiflora.

The unusual seed head of Magnolia grandiflora.

We are lucky to be able to grow such interesting plant like the Southern Magnolia and to see their magnificent blooms. These are trees which can grow to 27m(90ft) in the wild but rarely gets anywhere near that in a garden setting. The tree developes an attractive pyramidal form as it ages which makes it a good choice for the home garden. My sister has a postage-stamp size front yard and here their Magnolia grandiflora fits in beautifully. Some people complain about the fact that it sheds its leaves slowly during the year, this is common for all broad-leaved evergreens.

Magnolia grandiflora flowers have a delicate citrusy scent which is fresh and elusive in the garden.

Magnolia grandiflora flowers have a delicate citrusy scent which is fresh and elusive in the garden.

When choosing a site for your Southern Magnolia you need to select your site carefully. This will over time become a large tree, so not too close to a building is best. They have very brittle roots so only plant this tree only once, do not replant it later if at all possible as it might not survive the move. The roots are shallow and do not like to be damaged, care must be taken when planting under this type of tree, a simple groundcover or even grass is best. They like a nutrient rich, well draining soil. Pruning can be done during early spring but rarely need it except for shaping or removal of damaged limbs. Few pests or disease effect this tree or damage its foliage.

This avenue of Southen Magnolias is found off of Rock Street and leads to the top of Playfair Park in Saanich.

This avenue of Southen Magnolias is found off of Rock Street and leads to the top of Playfair Park in Saanich.

Magnolia grandiflora are said to be hardy to -20c(-10f) or rated  at zone (6)7-11. There are forms which are especially hardy and grow in colder areas such as Ontario and Ohio, ask at your local nursery for forms which are best for your site. In the colder zones they can be damaged by drying winds when the ground is frozen as they are unable to get water to their leaves, this is a common problem for broad-leaved evergreens. Choosing a site which is protected from these winds will help solving the problem.

On the Southern Magnolia Route:

Wiki has a lot of interesting information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magnolia_grandiflora

You will enjoy the work of Mark Catesby:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Catesby

Check out my article about ‘Million Year Old Magnolias’:  https://namethatplant.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/multi-million-year-old-magnolias/

Botanical scientific information about this tree: http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=1&taxon_id=200008470

Until I see you on my blog again….soon I hope!

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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.

Magnolia sieboldii also known as the Oyama Magnolia.

Magnolia sieboldii also known as the Oyama Magnolia.

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.

Oyama Magnolia with lighter color stamens.

Oyama Magnolia with lighter color stamens is likely to originate from Japan.

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.

The Other-worldlyMagnolia sieboldii  Seedpod Still Ripening.

The Other-worldlyMagnolia sieboldii Seedpod Still Ripening.

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.

Magnolia sieboldii on View Street behind Quadra Village Shoping Center

Magnolia sieboldii on View Street behind Quadra Village Shoping Center

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.

Magnolia sieboldii in Beacon Hilll park in Early Spring.

Magnolia sieboldii in Beacon Hilll Park in Early Spring.

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:

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You wonder what my Dagger Eye is, wonder no more.

I am a showy one and the best part is the innermost part.

The Tip of my Dagger...

The Tip of my Dagger...

Here I am again, a little late today.

I am clear and pure, and even smell that way I think.

My lines are uninterrupted from top to bottom.

White on White. Am i Right?

White on White. Am I Right?

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When I was going to college in Vancouver in 1989 my mother came to visit me. While she was staying with me we decided to go to Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden which had recently opened in Vancouver. It was built using the traditional techniques used during the Ming period in China. While were there admiring and learning about the construction we spotted a low shrub like tree with an enormous bizarre seedpod hanging from it. The seedpod had split open and the brilliant vermilion seeds were exposed and some of them were hanging down on sticky threads. We asked what kind of plant it was and were told it was a Magnolia.

he Fuzzy Perule Protects the Delicate Magnolia kobus Flowers Inside.

The Fuzzy Perule Protects the Delicate Magnolia kobus Flowers Inside.

Magnolias which are very common in this area.  Many spectacular Magnolias blooming at this time of the year  owe their parentage in part to the Magnolia kobus (Kobushi Magnolia) and there is a spectacular Kobus Magnolia at Dominion Brook Park which I eagerly look forward to seeing in bloom each year, and the time is now!

Kobus Magnolia in Bloom.

Kobus Magnolia in Bloom.

When I was in School at that time we spent a lot of time at Park & Tilford Garden where we did our practicum and has a large collection of other Magnolias. There I was able to study many Magnolia species but not  the Kobus Magnolia. I stumbled upon the one I am writng about because I frequently go to visit local parks searching for wonderful plant specimens to photograph.  The location of this Magnolia kobus is hard to miss when it is flower. It’s located next to the sunken garden which is across from the main pond.

Magnificant Magnolia kobus at Dominion Brook Park.

Magnificant Magnolia kobus at Dominion Brook Park.

Magnolias are fascinating as they look like they come from a different age and they do, they are older than most plants that inhabit the earth. They are thought to have evolved in the Tertiary period 2 to 65 million years ago.  They are a more primitive plant as their flowers attest to. Magnolias are unusual in that they have tepals which are neither petals or sepals(confused yet?), but look just like petals. The flower stamens and pistols are arranged in rings which encircle the stigmatic column where the seed is produced. Magnolias evolved over millions of years when there were only beetles to do the pollination. Beetle pollinated flowers are generally very large, white pink or red in color and have copious amounts of pollen which is a rich food source for them. They usually do not have nectar or fragrance (some Magnolias including kobus have a light scent).  The thick unusual seedpod carpals are designed to protect the embryonic seeds from the beetles.

A Closer Look at a Magnolia kobus Blossom.

A Closer Look at a Magnolia kobus Blossom.

Kobus or Kobushi Magnolia is a common tree throughout Japan and is found locally on the island of Cheju-do (Quelpart Island) on the southern coast of South Korea.  This Magnolia was introduced in to North America first in 1861 by Dr. George Hall of Rhode Island. Other seeds where later sent to Arnold Arboretum in 1876 which had been collected from trees in Sapporo by William Clark. Magnolia kobus was finally brought to  England in 1879 by Charles Maries, the famous plant explorer. The seed he brought back were grown at the world renowned Veitch’s Nursery.  The different seed sources has lead to the variability in the species in cultivation which I have seen here in Victoria.

One of Several Magnolia kobus Planted Along Linden St. in Victoria.

One of Several Magnolia kobus Planted Along Linden St. in Victoria.

Magnolia kobus are are probably the most spectacular of hardy all hardy trees with their fantastic blossoms. Thiss is a good tree to select for home gardens as it is smaller than many other Magnolias. It is particularly hardy for Magnolias and is known to withstand temperatures of -30c(-25f) for short period,but is safer to plant no lower than zone 5 . Kobus Magnolia are also more tolerant of different types of soil, only suffering when planted in thin dry soils. It is best if they have deep, moisture retentive soils which are humusy.  These are forest trees which prefer part shade but can grow in full sun.

The Delicate Buds of Magnolia kobus Can be Damaged by Late Frosts.

The Delicate Buds of Magnolia kobus Can be Damaged by Late Frosts.

You have to be patient for the first bloom as these trees are usually 12 or 15 before they first bloom. One thing you have to keep in mind with all Magnolias is they have very brittle roots and do not like being moved so much care must be taken in the process of choosing a site and planting. Later the fragile roots can be damaged by careless cultivation under the tree.

Links for this article:

More about Magnolias(great seedpod picture too).  http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Magnolia

Dr. Sun Yat Sen Garden in Vancouver. http://www.vancouverchinesegarden.com/

Dominion Brook Park is where you can see this tree.

http://www.northsaanich.ca/Municipal_Hall/Departments/Parks_and_Trails/Parks_Information/Municipal_Parks/Dominion_Brook_Park.htm

Until  We meet Again ….

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