Tag Archives: Magnolia denudata


When Saucer Magnolias are in full bloom —This pair on Eastern Point has to be one of Cape Ann’s prettiest!

The Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana) was first created in 1820 by French amateur plantsman Étienne Soulange-Bodin,  a retired officer in Napoleon’s army. He crossed Magnolia denudata with M. liliiflora.

I wish I knew more about the history of this grand old home and if the trees were planted when the house was first built. If anyone knows more about, please write. Thank you 🙂





Magnolia soulangeana ©Kim Smith 2015Yesterday while in Boston to meet with clients at their home on Comm. Ave, I couldn’t help but take a snapshot of the glorious saucer magnolias blooming along the avenue. I wished I’d had more time because just as I was leaving, the sun began to poke out. The stunning display that you see lining the south-facing side is the genius of one woman and when I have time, will write more about her brilliant accomplishment to which we are all the beneficiaries, more than fifty years after planting!

Commonwealth Avenue Boston Magnolia soulangeana ©˚im Smith 2015Magnolia soulangeana Commonwealth Avenue Boston

At the Gloucester HarborWalk Gardens, we planted two species of magnolia adjacent to each other. Many arboretums, such as Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum, plant several species of the same family in close proximity to provide an opportunity to learn by comparing the differences and similarities. I wanted our community to enjoy a mini-arboretum experience by planting two of the most beautiful magnolias that grow well in our region, the saucer magnolia and Magnolia virginiana, or laurel leaf magnolia. Stop by in the coming weeks to visit our gorgeous magnolias in bloom. M. soulangeana will bloom first, followed by M.virginiana.

The Friends of the HarborWalk will be back at the HarborWalk this Sunday (tomorrow morning), beginning at 9am. We’ll meet in front of the Gloucester House. Come lend a hand–its work, but fun with this growing great group of community-spirited friends. Everyone is welcome!

Please leave a comment in the comment section or feel free to contact me if you have any questions at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com.


Best Magnolias

Number Three is Magnolia ‘Forrest’s Pink’

Forrest’s Pink Magnolia

Forrest’s Pink is new to our garden. I purchased it several years ago through the mail and it arrived as nothing more than a stick with several side branches. FP is coming along beautifully and I was thrilled when last fall its very first bud had formed. Forrest’s Pink purportedly flowers slightly later, which is ideal for our predictably unpredictable New England spring. I also found very appealing its descriptions of delicious shell pink blooms, without a hint of purple. Although, what is most appealing is knowing that it’s parentage is that of the Lily Tree, or Yulan Magnolia (Magnolia denudata, synonomous with M. heptapetala)–the most dreamily scented of all the magnolias.

I was excited to show you a photo of its first flower but some devilish creature chewed the bud to the base of the tree. The bud had formed very low to the ground—perhaps it made a great bunny feast. The list of critters who eat magnolia flowers is long and includes snakes, deer, squirrels, moles, mice, and opossums. In China, the sweet citrus-scented flowers of the Lily Tree are pickled and used as a flavoring for rice. The lovely ornamental seed heads of many species of magnolias provide food for a wide range of birds. Hopefully by next year at this time we will have more than one bud to gaze upon and to photograph.

Newly developing seed head of Magnolia ‘Alexandrina’

Nearly the moment the fruits of our magnolia trees ripen, they are devoured by the Catbirds and Mockingbirds.

Image of Forrest’s Pink Magnolia courtesy Google image search

Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’

Top Five Recommended Magnolias: Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’

Liv photo

When Liv was attending Boston University I would often pick her up for lunch, and if the weather were fine, we’d end up at the Arnold Arboretum. After a winter of wearying shades of gray and brown, imagine our shared delight in coming upon the lovely Magnolia ‘Elizabeth.’. Not only is her beauty great, but the sweet lemony scent, divine. Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’ is a cross between Magnolia acuminata, the Cucumber Tree, a native to the eastern regions of the United States and Canada and the Yulan Magnolia (Magnolia denudata), native to China; both species are much appreciated for their heady fragrance.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden patented Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’ in 1977. I find the luminous primrose yellow blossoms much, much more preferable to the more common and relatively newer cultivar, Magnolia ‘Butterflies.’ Besides, M. ‘Butterflies” has comparatively ZERO scent.

Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’ is pyramidal in habit with elegantly tapered buds, characteristic of its parent the Yulan Magnolia. I would grow the Yulan Magnolia in a heartbeat if only we lived in a slightly warmer climate because it is the most dreamily scented of all the magnolias; its parentage is what gives both Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’ and the Saucer Magnolias their gorgeous fragrance.

Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’ grows 20 to 35 feet and does best when sited in full sun in Cape Ann gardens. Magnolias like moist soil, but hate wet feet, in other words, they require excellent drainage.