Summer is upon us and the temperature has rocketed!  This week our focus is on the Magnolia grandiflora or Southern magnolia.  Originating from the southern parts of the United States, the exotic Magnolia can be grown in large containers or in larger gardens.

This beautiful, rather slow growing, evergreen tree with its leathery leaves and waxy white fragrant flowers is one of the longest surviving trees on the planet dating back to about 95 million years ago.  Best known for its scented flowers, the blooms are produced from early summer and can continue to flower until February.  Fruits are reddish brown with a cone-like shape and carry bright red kidney shaped seeds.

The Magnolia has a spreading crown and is a very hardy tree that can tolerate most soil types and is wind resistant.  It can withstand cold temperatures of up to -15 degrees making it ideal for areas like Dullstroom, the Drakensberg mountain range, cold basins along the Vaal River and parts of the Eastern Free State.  The Magnolia can be planted under semi-permeable surfaces (for instance interlocking bricks) as it has low root damage potential and can thrive under semi-hard surfaces.

This is a wonderful example of an espalier tree which refers to the practice of controlling woody plant growth by tying the branches to a structure such as a wall or fence with a wood or wire frame.  This is done to ensure that tree grows into a flat plane.  This can be done in smaller gardens and could add an unusual design feature to your gardening space.

Ornamental and fragrant, the Magnolia is a welcome addition to the garden.