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Magnolias are a romantic bunch, thought of like southern belles with a blousy bloom, a fleeting moment of floral perfection. Whenever I confess to love them madly, I’m met with a questioning glance. This does not equate. She of the spikes, desert plants and love of foliage…magnolias? Yes!

If I had acreage I would plant multiples of all my favorites, the ones I know now and ones I’ve yet to discover. Naturally my first magnolia crush was on Magnolia grandiflora, could there be a better way to start?

Magnolia grandiflora on Duke University Campus, photo credit to DavetheMage

A grand old tree grew just outside my apartment on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. I must admit (although I’m not proud of this) a few blooms came inside to grace my bedside table. Fallen leaves became material for Christmas garlands and many wreaths.

As luck would have it (because I’m not smart enough to have planned it) the very first thing I planted in my current garden was a magnolia, and not just any magnolia but one with huge leaves, M. macrophylla
Magnolia macrophylla 1

Had I known then what I know now I probably would have gone for the smaller Magnolia macrophylla var. ashei, that Patricia praised a couple weeks back. Hers should top out at 30 ft tall, whereas mine could hit 50 (yikes!).
Magnolia macrophylla 2

The leaves are 2-3 ft long and the flowers measure 1½ ft across, they do smell wonderful but they’re so high up it’s rare to notice much of a fragrance. I like that it holds off on flowering until mid-May into June, when I’m typically spending more time in the garden where I can really enjoy them.
Magnolia macrophylla 3

Everything about this tree is big, even the “mess” it makes when the leaves fall…
Magnolia macrophylla 4

But darn, isn’t he a beauty? His branches are finally getting strong enough that I can hang things from them, like my orange circle pot.
Magnolia macrophylla 5

Being one who tends to extremes the other magnolia I’ve planted just might have the smallest leaves and flowers of them all, introducing Magnolia laevifolia
Magnolia laevifolia 1

It’s the cinnamon brown buds that first got me…
Magnolia laevifolia 2

One of mine (I have a pair) is finally getting tall enough I can see the brown indumentum on the bottom of the evergreen leaves.
Magnolia laevifolia 4

But the flowers, oh how I love the flowers. They’re about 3 inches wide and they smell delicious!
Magnolia laevifolia 5
Magnolia laevifolia 6

If our weather keeps on as warm as it has been I bet they’re going to start opening in the next month-month and a half. It’s going to be a very good year for the blooms…
Magnolia laevifolia 7

So what got me infected with this current case of magnolia lust? Magnolia maudiae
Magnolia maudiae 1

There’s a row of them planted along a street I frequently travel and they are in full, luscious, bloom right now (the planting is the work of our friends at Cistus Nursery). I stare at them and wish I had room for one, two, three…
Magnolia maudiae 2

Could there be any more blooms per tree? They are simply covered! Another bonus for this one, it’s evergreen…
Magnolia maudiae 3

So that’s three favorites, two that are mine and one I visit regularly. But when I said I love them I meant it, I want a magnolia forest! I’ll start it with these, please…