At the third attempt we have finally managed to grow this subtropical evergreen Mexican magnolia from the Tamaulipas to flowering size outdoors at Caerhays. It is the closest relative to M. grandiflora but nothing like as good. (See gallery below)
It actually produced a flower in July 2019 but this was out and over while we were away at the Hampton Court flower show so it went unseen by anybody here. This year it has three flowers and the second bud is perhaps three to four weeks behind the one pictured here. The third is some way behind again. On Saturday 4th July the flower was still covered in its black casing, by Sunday 5th it was half open, and by the afternoon of Monday 6th the tepals had begun to turn creamy brown and were filled with fallen anthers. By Tuesday the tepals had all gone completely brown and started to drop.
So you can see how easy it was to miss this unusual, and perhaps unique, event in the garden!
Of the three plants we have tried to grow the successful one came from Roundabarrow nurseries. The plant shown here was planted in 2017 and it sat doing nothing for a year so we feared it would succumb to cold winds like the others. However, it not only survived the Beast from the East in March 2018, but actually started to romp away and is now about 7-8ft in height. It is hard to imagine a more sheltered position and it seems to enjoy dappled shade and some overhanging acer branches.
The scent is strong and pleasant in a magnolia sense but nothing like as strong as Magnolia sapaensis which produced five flowers at a young age last year a few yards away. (See gallery above – last image)
The last three hot dry summers have clearly suited this unusual species and another Mexican, Magnolia macrophylla subsp. dealbata, has performed similarly albeit well into maturity here.