Tag Archives: Magnolia macrophylla

Six on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018

How time flies. I left for a 10-day trip to Eastern Europe on August 30, followed up with eight weeks of GFWC Region Meetings in eight states (Nevada, Nebraska, Maine, Indiana, New York, Mississippi, Texas, and North Carolina), and returned home last night from a super-secret (and very exciting!) location where I evaluated hotels for a convention (yes, GFWC again) that will be held in 2021.

The neglected garden, as you would guess, doesn’t offer much to crow about. Even still, I thought it would be good for us to catch up with Six on Saturday (hosted by the Propagator) for a look at what’s happening outdoors now.

(1) Our rainy spring and summer have been followed by an equally wet autumn, but while some of the season’s colorful foliage was washed away with the 5+ inches of rain that assaulted us earlier this week, this small hickory (seen from the sunporch) tempted me outside early this morning to find more seasonal treasures.

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At the peak of its color, this hickory (Carya) is a sight to behold, especially when touched by the sun in early morning.

(2) Surprisingly, other deciduous trees and shrubs, including many of our oaks and this frosty Chinese paperbush, are still green. It’s good to see, however, that its flower buds have formed and are growing quickly.

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A favorite shrub, the Chinese paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha), blooms in late winter.

(3) Nearby, nestled under a small tree and surrounded by ferns and low-growing shrubs, a large bear’s-foot hellebore is also in good form. Its inch-wide flowers, which will begin to open in just weeks, will be pale green with purplish-red edges.

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An eye-catcher, this bear’s-foot hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) offers lime-colored bloom stalks and silvery flower buds against dark, fine-textured foliage.

(4) In the secret garden, another plant with fine-textured foliage, Mahonia ‘Soft Caress,’ is already in bloom. During the growing season, its plant companions include Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum), hosta, and other shade-loving perennials. But as you can see through the shrub’s bamboo-like foliage, these herbaceous plants are sleeping now.

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This Mahonia eurybracteata ‘Soft Caress’ grows in part shade.

(5) I typically photograph this native shrub, commonly called silver-leaf hydrangea (for the white flocking on the underside of its foliage), in midsummer with its blooms covered in pollinators. The plant is just as beautiful in the cool season, though, don’t you think? Dried to a crisp, the flower heads will persist through winter wind and snow.

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Native to Appalachia, this Hydrangea radiata grows in the woodland garden on the north-facing terraces that slope down to the Reedy River.

(6) Finally, I couldn’t resist sharing this photo of autumn foliage on the floor of the woodland garden, which features a torn and crumpled discard from a bigleaf magnolia. The tree, planted just 3 years ago, will grow slowly until it reaches 30 or more feet tall. It’s less than a third of that size now, but this leaf is more than 2-feet long. Incredible!

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The leaves of Magnolia macrophylla can reach 2 to 3-feet long.

 

 

First Flower

South Carolina’s native cowcumber magnolia (M. macrophylla) bears the largest leaves and flowers of all North American trees.  After days of heavy rain, I looked out the window this morning into a gray fog and noticed a brilliant white bloom on the cowcumber I planted in the woodland garden almost exactly 5 years ago.

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Magnolia macrophylla

Purchased as a seedling at a spring sale of the Upstate Chapter of the SC Native Plant Society, the small tree now stands about 5-feet tall.  A few hours into the day, when the flower began to open, I took photos to record the momentous occasion.

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First flower highlighted by morning light.

The leaves of this deciduous magnolia can reach 32-inches long and its blooms up to 20-inches across, but the largest leaf on this immature tree measures 24-inches and the flower’s tepals are 6-inches long, which would make a 12-inch spread when fully open.

The underside of leaves have a sheen that is silver to white and the tepals are marked with purple at their base, which is another unique feature.

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Purple markings at the base of the flower tepals are an identifying feature.

Found in scattered populations throughout  the Southeast, M. macrophylla is very rare in South Carolina, with only two small viable populations remaining in York County (primarily due to a preference for neutral soils).  Thus, the tree is listed as critically imperiled in this state.

Luckily, however, it is fairly easy to grow in cultivation and is popular with native-plant aficionados and in-the-know gardeners for its spectacular leaves and flowers.