The Magnolia x Soulangeana is also known as Saucer Magnolia: This hybrid is one of the most commonly used Magnolias in horticulture.
I have taken a batch of photos of the twenty-year-old Magnolia tree in my mom's front yard which is so spectacular it captures the attention of all passersby. Certain individuals park and unload their long-lens cameras. One has even entered the fenced-off premises, such was his ardor to capture the Magnolia flower's grand beauty.
The same happens with the fallen leaves in autumn. The Magnolia leaves rigid network provides the skeleton for various arts and crafts projects.
I will include photos of the Magnolia Stellata (also known as Star Magnolia); which has fluffy-looking white blossoms and is partially hidden by the garden shed.
Ice Ages & Beyond
History & Habitat
Named after French botanist, Pierre Magnol, the Magnolia is an ancient genus of 210 flowering plants. Fossilized specimens dating back 20 million years have been found, and others belonging to the Magnoliaceae family date back 95 million years, proving that the Magnolia has survived many geological events (such as ice ages, mountain formation and continental drift).
Since there weren’t any bees back then the flowers attracted beetles for pollination. Another ancient distinction of the Magnolia flower is that they have tepals enclosed in a bract rather than stepals and petals. The flowers are heavy, the tepals thick and velvety to touch. Their fruity scent varies between musty and delicate.
The natural habitat of the Magnolia species is widespread, with a main centre in east and southeast Asia. A secondary centre in eastern North America, Central and South Americas, and the West Indies. Not much of a ‘center’ considering the vast area, and the fact that all of my photos were taken up here in Canada, further demonstrating the hardiness of the species.
Hybrids & Cultivars
The Art of Horticulture
The Saucer Magnolia hybrid got it's nickname for it's shape, which is more cuplike in the first week that the flowers are in full bloom.
The plant was bred by Etienne Soulange-Bodin (1774-1846), a retired cavalry officer in Napoleon's army, at his chateau in France. He crossed Magnolia denudata with M. liliiflora in 1820, and was impressed with the first precocious flowering in 1826. Following this the hybrid quickly entered cultivation in England, other parts of Europe and North America.
Plant breeders in many countries have continued to develop this Magnolia, so now over a hundred named horticultural varieties exist.
Note: When purchasing this plant today it is already in bloom ~no need to wait six years.The Saucer Magnolia grows as a multi-stemmed shrub or large tree with shiny, dark green, coarsely veined leaves. The large flowers are various shades of white, pink and purple and bloom all at once in early spring while the tree is still bare of leaves.
The spectacular show of flowers lasts approximately three weeks, followed by the growth of leaves which lasts throughout the summer until autumn. Large buds, for the flowers of the following year, are formed after florescence and during the summer months.
Note: Squirrels love to eat those tender buds, so we feed them peanuts, crackers and toast (sometimes with a little peanut butter in winter).
My Dad's Magnolia
My father planted his five-foot Saucer Magnolia in April 1983 using a ton of moss and watering it each day to help it adapt to its new environment.
My dad had two green thumbs when it came to our garden. His giant golden tomatoes, grown from the seeds of tomatoes we'd bought in Virgina one summer during our vacation, grew rampant in the side plot of our yard. People would stop to ask about those huge strange yellow tomatoes. He sometimes gave them one to appease their avid curiosity.
His fabulous roses also lay testament to his devotion. Trim-trim-trim.
It is true that dealing with and touching ground is the best natural escape from the stuffy aerospace company and the crowded city life. This snipping of the vines and other plants helped to reset his gladness.
Soon after the Saucer Magnolia took he planted the Star Magnolia which also grew into a very tall tree, yet not nearly as tall and wide as the Saucer.
In the years that followed, people would stop to ask what kind of tree it was. Then a little while later we started noticing Magnolia bushes around the neighborhood. The really big trees are rare, but there are a few.
Magnolia Trunk Size in 2003
Early Spring 2012 - 20 Years After it was Planted
View From the Street - With Mailbox
Symphony of Beauty
Riot of Color
Magnolia Leaves for Various Projects
The coarse-webbed structure of the Magnolia leaf (once flattened and dried ~sometimes pressed between the pages of a book [phone book to worked for me]) may be used in many innovative and crafty ways. Some local artisans visit my mom in late summer, when the leaves are mature, to select some greenery for their many projects; textured paintings, greeting cards, wreaths, picture frames, and even jewelry.
Kissing the Sky
Winter 2013, March 19th - Mere hours before the first day of Spring
Star Magnolia Buds
The Downfall - May 6, 2013
© 2013 Carol Houle