As our urban forest disrobes and a steely-gray nuclear winter sky descends over Boise, I'm reminded again of how much I appreciate the glossy, evergreen foliage of the Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandilflora).
Here are some interesting tidbits about the Southern Magnolia in our climate:
- There is a wide degree of variability amongst the many available cultivars, with Edith Bogue, Victoria and Bracken's Brown Beauty consistently overwintering well in our SW Boise Zone 6 property (there are reports that Edith Bogue even grows in Chicago).
- Winter desiccation from dry, cold wind is really tough on these broadleaf evergreens. If you live in a very windy, exposed site or south of Lake Hazel, forgetaboutit.
- In our climate, Southern Magnolias drop their three year old leaves in the spring and early summer (much to the consternation of those unfamiliar with this cycle!).
- Our Southern Magnolias need no more water than an average hardwood tree and have happily grown without fertilizer of any kind in our nasty, caliche "soil".
- Fragrant blossoms begin to appear late spring and continue into mid-summer.
Here's a picture tour of Southern Magnolias around Boise:
|Ruby red seeds of summer's spent flowers juxtaposed against lush evergreen foliage.|
|Lake Heron planting in 2003.|
|Ten years later! Yes, a bit close to the foundation, but in my defense we had just visited Georgetown where Magnolias planted within a few inches of brick walls are de rigueur|
|Another 2003 planting....|
|Same tree, today (again, in the Georgetown style).|
|Edith Bogue in our garden|
|The closely related Magnolia virginiana. Flowers have an intense citrus aroma. |
|A new, apparently hardy cultivar that my friend Steven Gossett grew from a seed he harvested from Spain. He calls it Granada.|
|Another cultivar in Steven's nursery, -24. Fortunately, we haven't had the recent opportunity to see if it lives up to the name!|
The last two are significant because they both survived
-20F -22F back in the early 90's December 22nd of 1991. So those of you who think we live in Zone 5, take note (you know who you are).
|The largest Southern Magnolia I've found in Boise is near Winstead Park. The oak behind it adds some nice contrast. The owners have told me that after |-20 F -22F, the tree completely defoliated but stubbornly pushed out new leaves in the spring.
|Same tree, different angle|