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Magnolia and Camellia

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by Colour Your Life • Friday March 4, 2016

With Mother’s Day on the horizon, what could be better than a perusal of this pair of ‘Big bloomers’? The Mother’s Day gift is often a rushed purchase from the local chocolate shop or florist – this year why not consider a garden plant?

I am happy to admit that I just love magnolias! The fantastic blooms are simultaneously showy yet classy and perhaps because of this, it has always struck me as bizarre that this beautiful plant had the very bland coloured wall paint named after it. After all, there are many magnolia varieties with colours ranging from deep purple to snowy white so why pick this plant name to represent such a nondescript colour?

The one thing the paint and the plant do have in common is their versatility – I think it is safe to say that most houses have magnolia paint somewhere in the building. In the same way, I’m pretty sure that there is a variety of magnolia that would bring beauty and joy to any UK garden – even if it’s growing in a pot.

Camellias too are an early spring stunner with gorgeous blooms that easily rival those of magnolia. Flowers tend to be white, pink or red and, like magnolia, some camellias will be happy living in good-sized pots. Many magnolias and camellias are ‘lime haters’ which means if your soil is not acidic you’ll have to create suitable soil conditions in containers – but there are exceptions as you will find out later.

Magnolia stellata

But where to start with so many varieties to choose from? An all round popular choice is Magnolia stellata. This would be the perfect choice for smaller gardens growing only to 4 or 5ft after ten years. It is a fabulous choice for pots, with the right care this plant will develop into a compact, well-shaped tree, gorgeous in bloom and also attractive in winter with its twig-like branches and velvet buds. Its beautiful pure white flowers resemble stars and are lightly scented. After the flowers, light green leaves appear.

Magnolia Soulangeana
Magnolia Soulangeana is a large deciduous shrub or small tree with the most fabulous pastel pink and white flowers which emerge on bare branches in spring. This plant is commonly called the Saucer Magnolia and is known for being easy to grow, in comparison with some other Magnolias. It is relatively tolerant of wind and alkaline soils. This tree can grow up to 15m and a width of around 6m.

Camellia 'Auburn White'
Or what about a beautiful camellia with its petticoat of petals and dark green waxy leaves? A great choice would be Camellia 'Auburn White', a fully hardy variety.

It is said that the white flower is a symbol of perfect loveliness, often given as a way to suggest “You are perfect”. The camellia stands apart as an emblem of gratitude and perfection. What better message for your Mum on Mothers Day?  


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