A Hidden Gem

A Hidden Gem

Trees ask precious little of the gardener (once established) and everyone has a chance to appreciate them including succeeding generations - not just the gardener who put them there in the first place.

Generally the tree planting season in the UK is mid November through to late March, although in Cornwall the spring starts earlier so I will say, early March. Choosing the right tree for your garden is easy when you know what to look for but try not to be beguiled by frothy masses of cherry blossom which last just two weeks. Not many flowering trees earn their keep in a garden on this basis.

I'm going to tell you about an outstanding small tree we have growing at Trebah, hidden away in the lower part of the garden on the Azalea bank beside Mallard Pond.

Magnolia doltsopa 'Silver Cloud' was a Hilliers' introduction that came via Duncan & Davies Nursery in New Zealand. It is a small (4.5m) evergreen tree with long dark green shiny leaves with heavily felted brown undersides. Its floppy multi-petalled creamy white flowers are not only scented with a spicy sweet perfume but are prolific and bloom for up four months. Yes, four months!

Botanists recently changed the name from Michelia to Magnolia and as you may know, Magnolias are notoriously slow to flower. Not so with 'Silver Cloud', it will produce blooms at 2-3 yrs old. The flowers form within the leaves not just at the tips like many other magnolias.

It requires little maintenance and likes well drained acid soil. The only downside is that it's not easy to source but there's always the RHS Plant Finder.

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