Sunday, June 08, 2008

Two Magnolias Blooming Now

We have two Magnolias blooming now, several Magnolia Virginianas the native 'Sweetbay' Magnolia and a Magnolia Sieboldii aka the Oyama Magnolia.

I bought a Magnolia Virginiana tree several years ago but when I smelled the wonderfully fragrant blosssoms I had to have more. I managed to find some at a end of season sale and bought 3 more trees. Our home is surrounded by the small trees and this year the 2 and 3 year in ground trees have produced a bumper crop of flowers.

The fragrance is especially pronounced in the afternoon and is enhanced by warm temperature. In the cool temperatures of early morning, there is hardly any smell even if you put your nose right up to the blossom.

The fragrance reminds me of gardenias and stephanotis and is carried for quite a distance. I lived in Hawaii for a number of years and this Magnolia compares favorably with the wonderful fragrances of the gingers, plumerias, gardenias, Pikake (Jasminum sambac), Pakalana (Telosma cordata) and hono hono orchid. It never fails to amaze me how tropical the perfume is and it is definitely my favorite of all the plants in our garden. The flowers are small by magnolia standards but it more than makes up for size by the beauty of the shapely flowers and aforementioned perfume. I highly recommend this zone 6a to 9b tree.

I was planting a perennial geranium between a M. virginiana and a newly planted Calycanthus. The heady smell of the Magnolia and the pineapple and spice smell of the Calycanthus (sweetshrub, spicebush or strawberry-bush) was such a delight as the breeze wafted the alternating scents to my nose. A day I'll remember for a long time.

The tree is also a host to some of the instar stages of the Eastern swallowtail butterfly and apparently you can use the leaves as a spice to cook with thus the name 'sweetbay'. So there are two more reasons to plant the tree.

The second blooming Magnolia is the M. Sieboldii I bought last year. I must apologize for the lousy photos - I must have been rushed while taking them and it was in the midday sun. It had so many blooms the year I planted the tree - I believe I counted 27 flowers last year- I thought there would be very few if any this year but I was pleasantly surprised to see it full of buds again this spring.

Unfortunately the flowers are pendant and downfacing so you don't see the attractive dark pink centers unless you duck under the flowers. It seems the color of the center has intensified this year too. I remember being somewhat disappointed with pink color last year when I expected red I saw in many photos of the flower. The color is closer to red this year so I'm quite satisfied.

The tree tends to spread rather than growing tall. We don't have much room for a spreader so I'll have to prune this one for a more upright growth. The flowers unlike the M. virginiana, have little if any smell.


Blogger Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

Your pictures are beautiful. Love the magnolias.

9:30 PM  
Blogger IBOY said...

I'm still waiting for my sieboldii to bloom; I'm starting to wonder if I'll still be around to see it. I guess I can at least see your pictures.

;^) don

9:44 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Thank you Aunt Debbi/Kurts Mom.

I love magnolias too. You can tell by the number of small trees (and not so small) we last count numbering 22 :) Thanks for stopping by.


Hi Iboy,
When I bought the small Sieboldii tree (approx. 4' tall) it already had many buds. I thought they would fall off from transplant shock but though the tree didn't grow much all the flowers bloomed.

I also bought a magnolia I thought was a Sieboldii and it took 4 years for that small 2' tree to set it's first buds and it turned out to be the yellow 'Butterflies' instead. Apparently it can take some varieties of magnolias 5 or more years to bloom. :(

Thanks for your comment.

4:12 AM  
Blogger kate smudges said...

It just goes to show what I don't know - I thought Magnolias bloomed in early spring. You have quite the collection of beautiful blooms here. The photographs look pretty darn amazing to me.

Sorry for not having visited sooner. I took a few weeks off from the computer - the garden suddenly took off and I decided I'd better be spending my time outdoors than on the computer. Now that it's raining these days, I can be back indoors more. Life does seem to get busier, as you noted in your last post, and not always with things that we want to be doing.

6:18 AM  
Blogger Nicole said...

Real eye candy-Magnolia and Papaver Orientale-to me two of the most elegant flowers. And two of which I can't grow unless I want to invest a lot of time and money in creating the right conditions. Enjoy your beauties!

6:34 AM  
Blogger Les, Zone 8a said...

Thanks for promoting one of our under appreciated natives. They come up wild around my parents house on the Delmarva peninsula, and several have been easily transplanted to the cultivated parts of the yard. It is a great tree.

6:48 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Kate,
Thank you. Most of the Magnolias bloom in spring but I just noticed our M. grandiflora 'Edith Bogue' just set forth a huge bloom. Some, like 'Jane' will also put out a few flowers in fall and I noticed that our newly planted M. Soulangeana also put out a flower in late fall.

I too have not visited my usual haunts...this late spring is turning out to be an extremely busy one for me so I look forward to catching up soon. Thank you for visiting.


Hi Nicole,
I agree these are among the most elegant flowers. Let's see now...I would also include peonies, roses, lotus and water lilies... I was going to make some generalized statement about the difference between temperate and tropical flowers but I better not as I'm sure there are too many exceptions.

I've found -unfortunately by personal experience - it's not worth the effort to try to grow things out of your climatic zone. But you have the elegant shell gingers, night blooming cereus, orchids etc. but I know what you mean. I want them all.


Hi Les,
I was so impressed by the beautiful strong perfume of the M. virginiana, I had to extol the virtues of this small tree. Unfortunately with this unseasonable hot weather the flowers are blooming at a very fast rate and will soon be gone. If I remember correctly, the tree does re-bloom sporadically in early fall.

Your parents are lucky indeed to live amongst and have a ready source of trees! The tree is also a host to some of the instar stages of the Eastern swallowtail butterfly and apparently you can use the leaves to cook with thus the name 'sweetbay' so there are two more reasons to plant the tree.

Thanks for your comment.

4:09 AM  
Blogger Entangled said...

My teeny tiny Sweetbay Magnolia is growing, but still no flowers. Maybe I should plant some more in anticipation of wanting more when mine finally does bloom.

Some caterpillar or other has been chewing on the new leaves. If it's a swallowtail, then I guess it's worth it ;-)

7:23 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Entangled,
How big is your tree? Sorry but I have no clue as to how long it will be before it blooms. The ones we bought were about 4-5 feet tall and already had buds on the trees. I hope I've not over-hyped the trees attributes so you are disappointed when it flowers but I think one whiff of the scent and you'll be sold. Just remember that it has hardly any smell in the cool of the morning and the scent will become stronger in the afternoon.

I've not noticed the leaves being chewed on any of our trees. I did notice an instar of the Eastern Swallowtail, looking like a bird dropping in a web on one of the leaves last year. We took a week long trip and when we got back it had already morphed into the next instar stage and vanished.

7:05 PM  

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