Greenwood 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 wreathes. 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 Terrace.
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.