Friday, August 24, 2012

Magnificent Melbourne Magnolias

Magnolias are in full flower here in Melbourne. We are planning on planting one in the Parkville garden and I've been scouting them out in peoples front yards. In the species Magnolia x soulangeana the flowers precede leaf growth and although the flowers are relatively short lived, they are definitely worth it for the incredible masses of blooms they can display. Magnolia x soulangeanas are very popular in Melbourne and tend to be planted right in the middle of people's found yards as a focal point of the garden. They are named after French botanist Pierre Magnol and their are several species that occur naturally in East and South East Asia, Eastern North America, Central America, West Indies and some in South America. They evolved before bees and the flowers are designed to encourage pollination by beetles. There is great variance between the species with some of the American Magnolias (eg Magnolia grandiflora) being evergreen and not so heavily or spectacularly flowered as the classic Asian species.

Magnolia x soulangeana planted in a typical fashion for a Melbourne front yard

Below is a cultivar called 'Apollo'. We plan to purchase one for planting in the Parkville garden I work in. It's difficult to appreciate it from the pictures but this cultivar has brighter pinks and more star shaped flowers than the soulangeana

This next one is called Magnolia Liliiflora and is native to Southwest China. It has darker flowers that don't open up as much as the soulangeana hybrid. It's significant in the sense that it is one of the parents of the soulangeana hybrid, the other being Magnolia Denudata. The one I have photographed here is just a young plant, they can grow to 4 metres. It is also known as the 'Tulip Magnolia, Red Magnolia, Lily Magnolia, Purple Magnolia, Mulan Magnolia, Jane Magnolia and the Woody-Orchid'.

Last of all is this massive Magnolia I spotted when driving in Carlton. I'm guessing it's a soulangeana. It has to be the biggest and most heavily flowered one I have ever seen. The buildings behind the tree look to be newer than the tree itself. They must have thought that it was too grand to cut down.

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