Deciduous Magnolia salicifolia 'Wada's Memory' makes a wonderful show of large semi-double white flowers from mid-March into April. The lovely fragrant blooms smother the branches and open before the leaves appear. The tree is conical when young but the crown becomes broader with age.
Our humus-rich, acidic soil suits this tree and we have been careful to plant our specimens where they are sheltered from the damaging effects of frost and cold winds. This cultivar can grow up to 12m (39ft) high with an 8m (26ft) spread given the right conditions, but could take 50 years to get to these proportions. They like some sun and will perform well in partial shade.
Each specimen is planted in a border surrounded by other trees and shrubs to give them the protection they need. Our largest specimens are in the shrubbery bordering the Formal Gardens. They are planted with a backdrop of Prunus laurocerasus 'Latifolia' with a nearby understorey of Sarcococca orientalis.
These evergreens allow the white flowers of the magnolia to shine out from the shadows. In Lady Anne’s garden the evergreen bamboo Yushania maculata and the weeping habit of Ilex yunnanensis makes a lovely contrast. In the Stream Field we have planted a young tree between Ilex × koehneana and Ilex 'Doctor Kassab'.
The deciduous nature of M. salicifolia 'Wada's Memory' AGM allows us to use a ground cover of snowdrops, bergenias, hellebores, Geranium macrorrhizum, Vinca, Aster divaricatus or Epimedium. Use a combination of ground cover plants as we have done to ensure year round interest.
Magnolia salicifolia 'Wada's Memory' AGM makes a lovely specimen tree but you do need a bit of room to allow it to develop its shape and to provide shelter from the worst of the winter weather.