Magnificent and majestic magnolias are a famous feature around RHS Garden Wisley. Our site and soil suits them well, and our Executive Vice President, and former Curator of Wisley, Jim Gardiner is passionate about them. As a result, we are blessed with a huge range of beautiful trees.
Growing and flowering
The diversity of this ancient genus (magnolias were one of the first flowering trees in evolutionary terms, around when the dinosaurs roamed) means they flower over a number of months. This year, due to the mild winter, many of the early ones came into bud sooner than usual and sadly the flowers succumbed to frosts in spring. But happily many in the sheltered woodland areas gave us a good show.
So, naturally, the later they flower the more likely they are to escape frost damage and our May Plant of the Month is one such example.
Intensely fragrant, large pastel pink flowers shaped like large tulips adorn Magnolia ‘Daybreak’. Outstanding in a garden landscape, it has a narrow, columnar nature which is rare for such a tree. Happily, this means it is wonderful for a small garden just as much as an open landscape.
Our best example is on Weather Hill, just to the side of the Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden near Bowles’ Corner. It is surrounded by a sea of blue camassias, and when both are in full bloom it is breathtaking. You’ll understand why we want to shout about it! This one is only about 15 years old, so you can see how it would never outgrow a small space.