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Notes from the Garden: Magnificent Evergreen Magnolias
Garden’s collection of winter hardy Magnolia
grandiflora, also known as the Southern Magnolia,
feature striking, fragrant flowers from late spring and
throughout the summer. Native to the southern states, the
specific epithet, grandiflora, is Latin for large flowers—and
this is no exaggeration—since some trees produce truly “grand”
blooms up to twelve inches across.
Named after the French botanist, Pierre Magnol (1638-1715), the
magnolia family encompasses a vast variety of flowering trees
with an ancient heritage (including the beloved spring flowering
types profiled in our April
issue of Notes from the Garden). Magnolias were some
of the first plants on earth to produce flowers pollinated by
insects and are thought to have predated bees.
The evergreen M. grandiflora are
favored for their beautiful foliage as well as their magnificent
flowers. The large, deep green leaves feature a rich,
cinnamon-brown back and stay fresh long after branches are cut
from trees, making them a dramatic and handsome addition to large
floral arrangements and wreaths. Four varieties of Southern
Magnolia cultivars known for their winter hardiness enhance
Greenwood’s landscape. A quartet of ‘D.D. Blanchard’ grow at the
edges of the Croquet Lawn near the entrance to the Garden of the
Gods; several specimens of ‘Little Gem’ and 'Edith Bogue' add
their beauty to the West Woods behind the Garden of the Gods; and
three examples of 'Kay Parris,' with its more compact yet robust
nature, grow next to the wall of the Main House on the East
The nourishing pollen and sweet nectar of magnolia trees supports
a variety of pollinators, including Greenwood’s honeybees, which
can be observed busy at work on every magnolia flower that opens
throughout the season.