Magnolia x soulangeana — Susan Rushton

In the world of home decor, magnolia is a best-selling colour that outlasts every new craze because it is so easy to live with, but its biggest fan would not call it exciting. On the inside of the loose, cup shaped flowers held on a magnolia tree, the sheeny colour has all the allure you could […]

Magnolia x soulangeana — Susan Rushton

Photographer Susan Rushton captures beautifully one of my very favorite trees, the Magnolia x soulangeana, sometimes called the “saucer magnolia” or “pink magnolia”. It is highly fragrant, as she notes. My college had an open plaza where one entire side was planted with them, and they had grown to an impressive size. When they were in bloom, you could walk through the plaza (or sit there) and receive gusts of their floral perfume.

We have several that grow in our neighborhood and they are spectacular. I’ve never been able to find a created fragrance that captures what they smell like in real life. But Susan’s photos absolutely capture what they look like. I can’t wait for them to bloom in my neighborhood every spring!

Climate Confusion

It is mid-February, and we have experienced temperature swings from the high 20s F to the low 70s F in less than two weeks! We’ve also had a LOT of rain. My garden is so confused, as are all the gardens in my neighborhood. Winter blossoms are still flowering (hellebores, mahonias, winter annuals like violas, pansies, dianthus, sweet alyssum), spring bulbs are opening (hello, daffodils!), and confused vines, shrubs, and trees that normally flower in March have decided to start blossoming early (Coral Bells azaleas, Clematis armandii, and Magnolia soulangeana).

Clematis armandii in bloom, March 2019
Clematis armandii, mid-March 2019.

 

Of them all, the only ones that I fear will suffer from the upcoming frost are the saucer magnolias, whose fragrant pink flowers will likely turn brown and drop. So sad, as they are one of my favorite trees and they scent the air with an incomparable fragrance! I hope some of the magnolias in my neighborhood will hold off long enough to provide abundant blossoms after next weekend, when we expect another frost. I don’t (yet) have a saucer magnolia in my own garden, but if/when I plant one, I will try to choose a later-blooming variety as well as a more compact one. Any suggestions?

Blossoming pink saucer magnolia
Magnolia soulangeana; mid-March 2019.