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Buy Magnolia Wilsonii



A small deciduous tree or large spreading multi-stemmed shrub. Very fragrant, pendant cup-shaped white flowers with conspicuous crimson-red stamens are sparingly produced at the ends of silken, leafy branches in late Spring and early Summer. Each fragrant flower is composed of nine pure white petals, named after the famous plant explorer Ernest Wilson, who discovered it in western China in 1904. Magnolia wilsonii will thrive in heavy clay, tolerate alkaline soils and is tolerant of atmospheric pollution. If required, prune unwanted or crossing branches when dormant in autumn or late winter to very early spring.




buy magnolia wilsonii


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Luxurious, pristine white petals open to reveal bright, lemon-lime carpels emerging from the folds of deep carmine red stamens. As spring transitions into summer, peer up into these huge, nodding 3-5 inch blooms while their sweet fragrance swirls around you! A broad, multistemmed magnolia with dark burnt umber bark brings great delight whether pruned into tree or shrub form. Named in honor of the famous plant collector Ernest Wilson who discovered it in western China in 1904.


Magnolia wilsonii is a deciduous, large shrub or small tree with a spreading, rounded habit. Its mid green leaves are narrowly ovate with entire margins, up to 16cm long and 7cm broad. These emerge bronze/ green and become yellow in autumn before they fall. Its silvery gray bark is smooth. Its fragrant white flowers have deep red centres, are cup shaped, up to 10cm across and emerge from red/ purple shoots. Its red fruit are up to 10cm long 5cm long.


THE beautiful magnolias of spring are still in flower in many places but they will soon be getting past their best. The ground underneath is already spread with petals and soon it will become snow-white for a time until the petals wither to brown, or are chewed up by the lawn mower. Another year of magnificent magnolia flowering finished, or is it? There is a group of magnolia


THE beautiful magnolias of spring are still in flower in many places but they will soon be getting past their best. The ground underneath is already spread with petals and soon it will become snow-white for a time until the petals wither to brown, or are chewed up by the lawn mower. Another year of magnificent magnolia flowering finished, or is it? There is a group of magnolias that are just now hitting their stride.


The summer magnolias are just breaking leaf at the moment and swelling their flower buds. Unlike the spring-flowering magnolias which flower on bare branches, the summer varieties flower after the leaves have begun to appear, but not long after. As a result, the summer magnolias flower in May and June. Indeed a few flowers can appear much later in summer too. While the spring magnolia is well known for the way it holds its flowers upright on the twig, tulip-fashion, the summer magnolias tend to have nodding flowers. This is strange because most nodding flowers appear in the early months of the year, such as snowdrops and hellebores, the nodding habit helping to keep rainwater off the internal flower parts.


If any magnolia needed protection from the rain, it would seem to be the one that flowers earlier, but not in this case, because the drooping kinds are the later to flower. There are three related kinds of these summer magnolias. The best known is probably Magnolia wilsonii , which makes a relatively small tree or large bush. The flowers appear on fairly young plants, usually just five or six years old. The beautiful purest white waxy flowers form a broad, shallow cup, and dangle on short stalks from the slender twigs, the weight of the flower tilting it down. The flower centre has a boss of rose-red stamens surrounding a yellow-green centre.


There is also Magnolia sinensis , the Chinese magnolia, a bigger grower, not as suitable for small gardens but a magnificent sight as a well-grown tree to about 10 metres. It has the same flowers, though sometimes not as nodding, and usually with a darker, crimson-red wheel at the flower centre.


Saturday - March 5 - Oporto to Spain. After worrying about the threat of break-ins and robbery for the last three weeks that many people have told me are a constant problem in Spain and Portugal - my luck finally runs out and I exit my hotel in the morning to find the car window smashed out by a very stupid potential thief. The car was parked under a bright street light, with all the interior compartments opened to show there was absolutely nothing in the car to steal had anyone bothered to look. Likely, he went after the radio - but failed to note the car had none! So a morning of hassels with police (who only speak Portugese and French) and insurance claims begins - when that is all over I learn that the auto dealers are of course closed for the weekend and nothing can be done to repair the damage until Monday. (Not all is lost - there was a fine planting of deciduous magnolias in full bloom at the front of the police station which I certainly would never have seen had the thief not "helped" me). After this experience I have absolutely no desire to have anything else to do with Oporto - and decide it is time to truly leave and sprint north to France where it should be easier to get a French car repaired. So much for the giant camellias I came to see!


Monday - March 7 - Bairritz to Nantes, France. After the car is repaired - hunt up the Bordeaux Botanical Garden in the center of the city. A small garden of perhaps 4-5 acres founded in 1859 and adjoining a city park which has many fine old specimens of American tree species (bald cypress, Southern magnolia, tulip tree, redwoods, etc.). Some things noted: Pterocarya caucasica (15"D, 24'H), Alnus glutinosa (2'D, 65'H), Juglans sieboldiana (Japan - 3'D, 65'H), Pinus griffithii (30"D, 75'H), and Ginkgo biloba (40"D, 80'H). Some of the more interesting odds and ends: 8 species of Cyclamen on display with C. coum in bloom; Stranvaesia glaucescens from the Himalayas new to me; the first Cercis canadensis I've seen on this trip; and most exciting - a plant of Poliothyrsis sinensis (5"D, 24'H) which I have long wanted for the arboretum - with seed on it (out of reach of course).


Tuesday - March 8 - Nantes to Channel. One last planned stop on my push to England in Nantes to see the Botanical Garden created in 1850 and today covering 17 acres. The guide book indicates the garden is particularly noted for its magnolias and camellias which I estimate should be at peak bloom - and indeed are. Two opposite sides of the walled garden are lined with massive plantings of hundreds of cultivars of camellias - the largest collection I have seen and showing the great diversity of this genus. Among the more interesting plants here - probably the largest (longest) specimen I've seen of Cedrus atlantica 'Glauca Pendula' - trained on a wire from one bed over a pathway and across another bed - about 60' of horizontal distance; Quercus macrocarpa (30"D, 60'H), a variegated elm new to me - Ulmus procera 'Argenteo-Variegata'; many fine Pieris in full bloom; Sophora kronei (new to me and not in any of my references? - 15"D, 25'H); and probably the finest specimen I've ever seen of the U.S. west coast tree, Umbellularia californica (20"D, 30'H, 30'W).


Softwood cuttings have rooted readily in summer with 90%+ success. For best commercial success, one should probably take cuttings here in July, root under mist in deep flats with a #1-2 Hormodin equivalent, and overwinter them outdoors without root disturbance until after new growth begins the following spring - at which time they can be potted (similar to Acer, Hamamelis, Stewartia, etc.). Poorly drained soils in the heat of the south may provide extra stress for the root system. This spring we tested grafting of scions on rootstock of B. nigra, the common southern river birch which is a floodplain species tolerant of most any heavy or wet soil situation. The cleft grafts (side-veneer would probably be best for commercial use) all took easily and have already produced 3-4' of growth in the nursery. As the top of the plant seems completely heat tolerant - this grafting procedure onto river birch rootstock may enable the Himalayian Birch to be used further south or in more marginal situations than the species itself could tolerate. Much testing is needed - but the exceptional beauty of this species warrents such experimentation. Our largest tree is in the display lath house with a younger one in the magnolia area of the east arboretum. Large quantities of cuttings or scion wood are available upon request.


Styrax wilsonii (Styracaceae). A rare white-flowering deciduous shrub discovered in China in 1908 by Wilson and rare in cultivation due to its lack of hardiness (Krussman - Zone 8/9) for inclusion in northern arboreta and botanic gardens. This 3' plant was rooted from a cutting in the San Francisco Strybing Arboretum in 1981 and we've been overwintering it as a container plant in the greenhouse ever since - hoping for our Zone 8 display house at the arboretum one day to plant it there. After the trade show we will send it to the new Wilmington arboretum for planting out there and root more cuttings to continue it in the arboretum collection. I still have hope that with our summer heat we might pick up enough extra hardiness to handle it in Raleigh. The NCSU Arboretum (now the JC Raulston Arboretum) Styrax collection is getting fairly good with about 14 species and cultivars now (China is still full of numerous ornamental species which have never been introduced to cultivation - drool, drool!) - and we hope to release the outstanding form found in Korea in 1985 at the 1989 short course - possibly the most beautiful Styrax in cultivation - S. japonica 'Sohuksan'. 041b061a72


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