Monday, May 30, 2022

Big Leafed Magnolias for the Garden

As I look at the plants in our utility and greenhouse area, I found myself admiring three of the big leafed magnolias there waiting to be planted. I seem to have inadvertently collected them, finding myself gravitating towards them at nurseries, buying them, and figuring out where to plant them as an after thought of the purchase. These are big trees and our garden isn't exactly big enough to accommodate them all. But hey, there is fun in not being too sensible!

Magnolia macrophylla blossom

Big leafed Magnolias are still underused for domestic back gardens in the UK to create a tropical and jungle style garden. With their big, tropical looking leaves they also have the bonus of good hardiness and providing structure and backbone to the garden.

I won't go much into detail about their cultural requirements but broadly mention that they do prefer a neutral to acidic soil and dappled shade to full sun (especially when they start to tower over everything else, not much choice when that happens). What I do find is that most of them seem to tolerate chalky conditions a lot more than usually perceived. Our garden has an acidic pH but over a foot down it sits on alkaline, chalky subsoil and most seem to do fine and thrive away. Perhaps they'll do even better if we had neutral to acidic soil all the way but I can only offer what we've got....

Here's a guide to hardy (always with caveat to this word), big leafed Magnolias for the domestic garden to help create a tropical/exotic/jungle style garden in the UK....

Variegated Beauty

 It took it's time but finally it's getting going again, this variegated Brassaiopsis hispida...

Brassaiopsis hispida variegated

I shouldn't have been surprised that it was slow to get going, owing to it's variegated character. With less 'green' to play with by nature it would be much less vigorous than the plain green species.

The new growth is also prone to being nibbled by slugs, snails, aphids, and scale insects so we have to keep an extra eye on it. Earlier today I spotted some scale insects so had to spend some time manually removing them before they do further damage.

We need this to further bulk up so can propagate and have back ups, and even distribute from there. Fingers crossed!

Mark :-)