Friday, March 18, 2016

Spring Magnolia Show

I'm glad winter returned with a couple inches of snow, the landscape was drying out and I was tired of dragging hoses around to water the trees. And wouldn't you know the quick storm came just two days before the first day of spring officially arrives. We're used to weather swings in March and April but we'll be back to sixty degree days next week (the hoses are within reach). As Charles Dickens said "spring is the time of year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade."

During the past week's warm weather I was able to snap some photos of the magnolia tree flowers in Washington Park, view them further down. These early bloomers were spectacular and every time I passed by them there were other gawkers admiring them too. Maybe we should start a walker-gawker club in the park.

'Saucer' Magnolia, photo from
Magnolias grow well along the Front Range. They flower before leafing out so are easy to spot. They need to be sited properly with wind protection - north or east-facing is best. Avoid south or west sites where they will embrace the warmth and most likely flower earlier than early (which makes for a very short showy season if they flower).
A nice sized magnolia shrub form to consider is 'Saucer' Magnolia, M. x soulangeana with large, saucer-shaped flowers with white insides and pinkish-purple suede-like outsides. 'Saucer' can grow to a large size clump 20' x 20' and has attractive dark green foliage.  

Others to consider along the Front Range - Magnolia stellata 'Royal Star' which can be a small tree or large shrub 10-15' x 10-15' with white, large, single, star-like fragrant flowers. 

'Galaxy' Magnolia, photo from
Magnolia 'Galaxy,' bred at the National Arboretum in Washington D. C. is a hardy tree with outstanding hot pink candy-scented blooms in late spring (much later than other magnolias).  Sized more upright at 30' x 15' it is well-branched and can adapt to tougher soil conditions, but still give it protection from strong winds. 
Newer to our area is Magnolia 'Butterflies,' with delicate lemon-yellow flowers that appear to float or perch on the graceful branches like butterflies.  Place it in a protected area for show stopping early spring enjoyment.

'Butterflies' Magnolia, photo from

Photos from my walk at Washington Park the week of March 14th - most likely Magnolia x loebneri 'Merrill.'

What a difference a snow storm makes, taken three days later :-(


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