Of magnolias, mood lighting and more on Cold Water Surf

Just another unnamed seedling

I feel that we are becoming increasingly reclusive in this new world we are facing in 2020 but there are many worse places to become reclusive than here. It is magnolia season.

Magnolia × soulangeana ‘Alexandrina’

It is time for my annual reminders on magnolias.

  • If your magnolia opens with two separate coloured blooms (white first and with deep red just opening in the email enquiring about this phenomenon this morning), you have a case of escaped root stock. The root stock is generally stronger growing and will overwhelm the grafted variety over time, if you don’t remove it. This is not a case where you can have two for the price for one.
  • Ripped petals are usually being eaten by kereru, sometimes rosellas in northern parts of the country. Kereru are a protected species, rosellas are a gaudy Australia export so not.
  • Buds which fail to open or only produce distorted, misshapen blooms have almost certainly been eaten out in the bud stage by possums or rats who like to nip out the centre. Mark carries out extensive trapping and shooting to keep these pest numbers low here.
  • If you are into spraying your lawn in spring, do it now. If you delay, the faintest whiff of spray drift as magnolias start to open their leaf buds can cause significant damage to the new foliage which will be unsightly until the leaves drop next autumn and, over time, can weaken the tree.
  • It might be true in the UK that you can’t move magnolias – or it may be a factoid – but here in NZ we can move magnolias and we have done it many times. Just make sure you get as big a root system as you can manage and if the root system is small, prune the tree hard.

Lanarth at the top, Mark’s purple below

We have been hesitating about whether we can fairly describe Mark’s selection (as yet unnamed) as purple. Magnolia campbelli var. mollicomata ‘Lanarth’ is widely seen as setting the standard for purple magnolias. I finally got around to lining up petals of Mark’s purple and Lanarth petals to compare. Magnolias are variable so I picked up the darkest petals of Lanarth I could find and it seems that the colour of Mark’s measures up.

Top to bottom: Lanarth, Mark’s purple, Vulcan and Burgundy Star

Just out of interest, I added in Vulcan petals. Vulcan was the first of the new generation magnolias 30 years ago that moved into red tones, rather than purple. The few at the bottom are of Burgundy Star, the next generation of reds bred from Vulcan. Mark is getting to cleaner reds.

More on Cold Water Surf (or any other washing powder) and moss. You can, and I have, use it on moss in the lawn. We accept moss but preferably the fine forms. I am not a fan of liverwort and some of the coarse mosses and Surf works on them.

Hard surfaces? Hmmm. It works. It kills the moss. If all you want to do is to get rid of slippery growth, it may be fine to sprinkle it generously, wait for rain and then use a stiff brush a few days later. I want these pavers back to their soft gold so I tackled these with a wire brush but it is going to be a lot of hard work to restore the whole area. I think I will resort to the water blaster (jet washer).

Finally, a few mood shots from this week. We do not generally get mist or fog so this morning mist gathering in a lower area seemed appropriately mystical to me.

On a grey morning, a few shafts of rising sun broke through to illuminate the magnolia in the distance. It was a somewhat startling sight.

Fairy Magnolia White

More often, this clarity of light is the norm for us, even in winter. That is Mark’s Fairy Magnolia White which really does have an exceptionally long flowering season.

7 thoughts on “Of magnolias, mood lighting and more on Cold Water Surf

  1. Sue

    Abbie, what about moving magnolias in Australia? Being very specific, Canberra? Can I put my recently bought small potted Felix into a larger pot for a few months, as it looks like building work for our new home won’t finish sufficiently soon to plant Felix straight into the ground and survive the various workers on site?

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Swapping pots is no problem because there is no root disturbance. In Canberra, Felix will need a protected spot. There is one growing in our daughter’s street in Campbell but it won’t want to be too open and vulnerable NGO heavy frost.

  2. Jude Duthie

    Hi, Do you have any Galanthus, English snowdrop. I would love some Kind regards Judith Duthie

  3. tonytomeo

    Escaped understock is why the ‘Lennei Alba’ magnolias are just ‘Lennei’ now. There is another magolia at work that was clobbered by a fallen tan oak, only to regenerate from below the graft. I do not know what it is, but it is pretty.
    When I grew citrus trees, I got telephone calls annually about very thorny trees that made five pound kumquats!

  4. Paddy Tobin

    Good Morning, Abbie. I must first of all confess my elderly stupidity: With your initial mention of “cold water surf” I genuinely had pictures of you on the ocean waves but that was corrected later!

    Mark’s purple looks like a fabulous plant – any magnolias which outshines ‘Lanarth’ moves immediately into the “Excellent” category.
    Re moving magnolias: I live very close to Mount Congreve Gardens and see them moving quite large magnolias on occasion so it is not a problem here.

    I’d opt for a power-washer to clean the paving slabs!

    It’s a beautiful day here and I’m going to garden!

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Ah yes. I try to be mindful of what references every NZ reader will understand that will be a mystery to citizens of other nations! Lanarth is beautiful but not easy to propagate, not easy to establish well and with a short flowering season. There is room for other options.
      I shall ask our man Lloyd to get onto the pavers, I think. He is a whizz on the power washer (as you call it. Water blaster here.)
      May you have a lovely summer’s day in the garden.

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