In the Garden with Jo

Magnificent magnolias! Add some eastern glory to your Irish garden

Jo McGarry of Caragh Nurseries

Rose B O'Donoghue

Reporter:

Rose B O'Donoghue

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editor@kildarepost.com

I arrived back home yesterday and took a look around the garden, it was one of the days between storms when actually the sun was shining and it wasn’t raining, they have been few and far between. I took a look around the garden to see what was in flower and what was about to. My hellebores are adding a real splash of colour at the moment and they are flowering really well despite of the battering.  I also noted my camelias just about to burst and one of my favourite magnolias ready to explode into from their downy buds into flower in the next week or two.

 Native to east Asia and the Himalayas, these deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs feature blossoms in white, pink, red, purple or yellow. Magnolias are believed to be the earliest known flowering plants, with their fossils doing back over one hundred million years. Magnolia trees apparently even existed before bees, so they rely on beetles for pollination. The flowers produce large quantities of pollen instead of nectar, that the beetles use for food. I bet you didn’t know that now!

 While magnolia is best known for its flowers, its foliage and fruit are super attractive too. Their magnificent tulip or star shaped flowers can be as large as saucers when fully opened. Evergreen species have large, glossy, oval shaped leaves all year around. The trees also produce a cone like fruit with brightly coloured seeds that attract songbirds.

 Best suited to fairly rich, well drained and neutral to slightly acidic soil, if necessary, organic matter can be added when planting. Magnolias are excellent lawn trees, once a medium size grass free area is left around the trunk of the tree and planting is avoided directly underneath. They thrive in full sun or partial shade with regular watering, and seldom suffer from serious pest or disease problems.

 One of the few difficulties of magnolia tree care is managing the large, crispy leaves that continuously fall from the tree. Some people remove the lower limbs of a magnolia tree to facilitate mowing, however if the lower limbs are left on the tree, they will drape to the ground and hide the fallen leaves. The shade from the tree and accumulation of leaves will provide nutrients for the tree and ensure it stays healthy and flowers well the following year.

 The following are a few of the magnificent magnolias that I love and so we have chosen to have on the nursery

Magnolia Susan: a bushy, upright shrub with large mid-green leaves. From mid spring to midsummer, narrow goblet-shaped, fragrant flowers emerge from slender, dark burgundy buds. These open to slightly twisted petals which are burgundy on the outside and paler on the inside. A glorious deciduous magnolia that makes a lovely specimen for a small garden with acidic soil (if in doubt do check with us) These are grown as a bush creating a slightly cone shaped specimen.

Magnolia Stellata: this variety of the popular Spring flowering shrub or tree has an abundance of white flowers that resemble water lilies. With an eventual height of 4m this variety is grown as a stunning shrub though we have other varieties on the nursery that have been grown specifically as trees that are equally as stunning when in flower.

 Magnolia Leonard Messel: a small magnolia producing an abundance of  blush-white flowers on bare stems in mid-spring. One of the few magnolias to flower freely from a young age. The flowers are less susceptible than most magnolias to late night frosts. Will grow to approx 8ft tall with a spread of around 5ft, a beautiful Magnolia for a small garden. Unlike many magnolias, this variety succeeds well on all types of soil including clay and chalk.

 Magnolia Heaven scent: ‘Heaven Scent’ is a lovely magnolia tree with goblet or tulip shaped, large flowers in April-May that are highly fragrant with pale pink outside, fading to white inside. The softly coloured, spring flowers contrast wonderfully with the dark green foliage. It has an upright habit that looks great in these multi-stemmed style trees that actually resemble more of a conical shape. Ideal for smaller or city garden, make sure you show it off though!

 Magnolia Grandiflora: An unusual evergreen, Magnolia Grandiflora boasts large, leathery leaves with a dark-green colour on top and a bronzed, furry underneath. The gloriously huge, creamy flowers in late summer (August/September) have a complex lemon perfume and look magnificent against the dark background.