Tag Archives: magnolia soulangeana

MAGNOLIAS AT THE GLOUCESTER HARBORWALK GARDEN (AND CLEANUP SUNDAY MORNING)

Magnolia soulangeana ©Kim Smith 2015Yesterday while in Boston to meet with clients at their home on Comm. Ave, I couldn’t help but take a snapshot of the glorious saucer magnolias blooming along the avenue. I wished I’d had more time because just as I was leaving, the sun began to poke out. The stunning display that you see lining the south-facing side is the genius of one woman and when I have time, will write more about her brilliant accomplishment to which we are all the beneficiaries, more than fifty years after planting!

Commonwealth Avenue Boston Magnolia soulangeana ©˚im Smith 2015

Magnolia soulangeana Commonwealth Avenue Boston

At the Gloucester HarborWalk Gardens, we planted two species of magnolia adjacent to each other. Many arboretums, such as Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum, plant several species within the same plant family in close proximity to provide an opportunity to learn by comparing the differences and similarities. I wanted our community to enjoy a mini-arboretum experience by planting two of the most beautiful magnolias that grow well in our region, the saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana) and sweetbay magnolia (M. virginiana). Stop by in the coming weeks to visit our gorgeous magnolias in bloom. M. soulangeana will bloom first, followed by M. virginiana.

The Friends of the HarborWalk will be back at the HarborWalk this Sunday (tomorrow morning), beginning at 9am. We’ll meet in front of the Gloucester House. Come lend a hand–its work, but fun with this growing great group of community-spirited friends. Everyone is welcome!

Please leave a comment in the comment section or feel free to contact me if you have any questions at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com.

 

 

Saucer Magnolia and Another View of the Mabel Burnham House, Essex

Burnham House Essex MA Magnolia ©Kim Smith 2014Mabel Burnham House, Essex 

Saucer Magnolia ©Kim Smith 2014No group of trees and shrubs is more favorably known or more highly appreciated in gardens than magnolias, and no group produces larger or more abundant blossoms.” ~ Ernest “Chinese” Wilson, botanist and plant explorer

Do you have a favorite flowering tree? If I  had to chose just one, which would be very, very difficult because I LOVE all flowering tress, it might just be the Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia soulangeana). But ask me again when the dogwoods are in bloom! I would love to know what is your favorite spring blooming tree. Write in the comment section and let us know. And send a photo, too, if you’d like. Thanks!

Saucer  magnolia ©Kim Smith 2014Global climate change is causing extremes in weather worldwide. The horticultural problems created by a spring cycle of freezing-thawing-freezing temperatures are only going to increase. The gardener’s best defense is to plant species that can withstand these new horticultural parameters. I find the Saucer Magnolia, which blooms later than the Star Magnolia, a much better choice for New England gardens, where spring is fleeting at best and tree blossoms are often quickly ruined by frost.

Magnolia Burnham Houes Essex MA ©Kim Smith 2014

dsc06526Joey’s Marsh View of the Burnham House, Essex, at Dawn

Top Five Recommended Magnolias for Cape Ann Gardens

Does your magnolia look like this:

Magnolia blossoms ruined by hard frost

Rather than this:

Magnolia soulangeana ‘Alexandrina’

Today begins a series on the top five magnolias for Cape Ann gardens, based on many years of observing and writing about this most highly appreciated species. Magnolias are one of the loveliest of springtime flowers, with silky buds developing into waxy fragrant goblets, and with their stunning display juxtaposed against bare branches, few trees are more breathtakingly beautiful than a mature magnolia in full glorious bloom. If you have a favorite magnolia, please write and let us know why!

Foremost in recommending magnolias for Cape Ann gardens are that the flowers have a beautiful shape that hold up well in inclement weather, that they are intensely fragrant, and no less importantly, that they come into flower a bit later in the spring, or early summer. I had formerly recommended the Star Magnolia (see Joey’s photos Blooming Baby) however, Star Magnolias (Magnolia stellata) bloom the earliest of all the magnolias and they are the most susceptible to damage from a hard frost. Their bloom time is fleeting, at best, and the flowers are often quickly ruined.

Today’s recommendation is for the Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia soulangeana x ‘Alexandrina’). The saucer magnolia is the magnolia of Boston’s Commonwealth Avenue fame.  A simply stunning and  mature pair can be seen in Gloucester flanking the front entryway to the Classic Revival brick house on the way to Eastern Point (opposite Niles Beach). The outer petals of ‘Alexandrina’s’ flowers are a richly colored deep pink, shaded white and pale pink inside, with a lovely fragrance. This variety has an upright habit, which makes it ideal for standard tree forms. Plant in full sun, to very, very, light shade.

Tip –if you hold fragrance in as high regard as do I, go to the nursery when the species of tree that you are shopping for is in full bloom. Oftentimes a tree may identified as a particularly fragrant variety, but then again it may not be accurately identified. Through no fault of the nursery– perhaps tags were switched, or perhaps their distributor has not accurately labeled the plant; whatever the case, take your nose from tree to tree.

No group of trees and shrubs is more favorably known or more highly appreciated in gardens than magnolias, and no group produces larger or more abundant blossoms.”

~  Ernest “Chinese” Wilson, botanist and plant explorer

Global climate change is creating extremes in weather worldwide. The horticultural problems created by a spring cycle of freezing-thawing-freezing temperatures are only going to increase. The gardener’s best defense is to plant species that can withstand these new horticultural parameters.