Tag Archives: Magnolia Vulcan

Tikorangi Notes: a top-knot hedge, magnolia time, soy milk and tofu (because we are multi-faceted gardeners here)

“Just add some googly eyes”, a friend suggested

This hedge in my local town of Waitara makes me smile every time I pass it. I think it is just Cupressus leylandii, often referred to as Leighton’s Green. Was that as high as the owner could reach to trim, do we think? Or did they like the top-knot look which makes me think of Kim Jong-Un? This may remain a mystery. I rather hope it is deliberate.

The Kim Yong-Un of hedge design? 

First flowers of the season on Magnolia ‘Lanarth’

I have been so busy looking down at the early snowdrops, Cyclamen coum and the first of the spring narcissi, or looking over in the hopes of the mountain being free from cloud so I can start my seasonal photos of Magnolia campbellii in our park framed against the distant snowy mountain flanks, that I have forgotten to look up. It is not just M. campbellii in flower. ‘Lanarth’ is opening now (technically M. campbellii var mollicomata ‘Lanarth’) and the season for this magnolia is short but spectacular. ‘Lanarth’ came from southernmost China via Cornwall. We have two plants of it growing in the garden. This is the one behind our house and it flowers first because it is a warmer location than the first and larger plant of it down in our park. These early flowers lack the colour intensity that sets it apart from many other magnolias.

Magnolia ‘Vulcan’, the first of the new generation of reds

And ‘Vulcan’ has opened its first flowers. It is still a very special magnolia for us, even though there is now a plethora of red magnolia hybrids on the market. This magnolia from Mark’s father, Felix Jury, was the breakthrough to the new generation of reds.

Magnolia Vulcan, showing some kereru damage to the petals

I didn’t notice the somewhat raggedy petals until I looked at my photos on the computer screen. That is pigeon damage – our native kereru – as opposed to rat or possum damage which looks different. Soon there will be so many blooms open, that the petal-nibbling kereru efforts will not be obvious. We have plenty to share.

With the early blossom opening (mostly Prunus campanulata or Taiwanese cherries), the tui population is increasing rapidly as they return for this favourite feast. We have some tui who stick around all year but scores of others flock in over this period of early spring. “When trees dance” is how Mark describes it.

Mark is drying and winnowing his crop of soy beans 

I wrote about the bean mountain back in 2015 and since then the soy bean harvest has assumed daunting proportions. Mark’s home production of organic soy beans is apparently somewhat unusual. Aficionados tell me that it is now impossible to buy organic soy beans in this country that have not been irradiated as a condition of their importation. I don’t think we have a local soy bean industry. Apparently the soy bean mountain here is more of a valued resource than I had realised.

Soy beans are not my favourite bean to eat whole. I will reach for the kidney beans and fava beans first, or even the borlottis which are also not my favourite. I swapped a few kilos with a local person found on Facebook who makes a variety of different miso pastes which proved delicious. But what to do with the rest? I started making soy milk about a year ago in an attempt to reduce our intake of dairy. We are not so enamoured of soy milk that we use it all the time. I still prefer cow’s milk in tea and coffee but I use the soy milk in many other situations when I would formerly have reached for cow’s milk and I find it more than acceptable in the breakfast muesli and porridge.

The amazing Soyabella!

The recent gift of a Soyabella machine has revolutionised my life. It was a bit tedious and messy making soy milk with the food processor, strainer, muslin cloth and a big preserving pan on the stove. This handy little Chinese machine, not much larger than an electric jug, makes a litre of fresh, hot soy milk in about 15 minutes with close to zero human effort. It is a wonder, my Soyabella. And it has opened up the world of home-made tofu. Why home-made tofu? For us it is both a way of using our home-grown soy beans but also about drastically reducing the plastic that comes into the house. With the arrival of nigari this week, I made the first block of tofu and, between Soyabella and I, the hardest part of was finding the right-shaped weight to fit on top of the tofu block to press it. It was perfect, just like a bought block. Nigari is just a coagulant – mostly magnesium chloride – which separates the soy milk into curds and whey.

A small but perfectly formed block of tofu

It was our trip to China three years ago that really converted us to tofu as a food staple. The crispy tofu was delicious so I searched the net for instructions. It isn’t difficult. Press the block of tofu for an hour or more to squeeze out excess water (I just use an inverted plate on top of it with a weight on that). Slice or dice the tofu and marinade for a few minutes only so it doesn’t take in more liquid. Dust it with cornflour and shallow fry. Voilà! Crispy tofu.

The lily border (currently empty bar Camellia yuhsienensis), backed by a clipped hedge of Camellia Fairy Blush punctuated with shaped Fairy Magnolia White all coming into bloom. Queen palms in the distance. 

Felix’s magnolias on a glorious spring morn

After posting my piece on petal carpets this morning, it was such a gorgeous spring day I headed down to the park with camera in hand. And today, it was Felix’s magnolias that were at peak glory. It’s often an odd feeling living on a family property steeped with the history of earlier generations. Not ghosts, more like an enduring presence. And I wanted to pay tribute to Felix’s little collection.

Felix Jury in 1985, photo by Fiona Clark

I have recorded the history often enough here  so today is just the pleasure of the sight of so much in bloom. Sure, some have been superseded over time but these were ground breaking hybrids in the 1960s and created a special place for New Zealand in the world of magnolias. They also provided the platform for Mark to build on with his next generation hybrids.

The purity of ‘Lotus’, Felix’s best white, is hard to beat on its day.

‘Apollo’ was Felix’s best purple. This and the other magnolia photos were taken this morning. Did I mention what a glorious spring day it has been?

This one was never named and is the only unnamed seedling I am including today because at its peak, it is so very pretty. We just refer to it as “Apollo’s sister” because it is from same cross and batch of seed.

Magnolia ‘Athene’. There was a certain classical theme running through the naming of some of these cultivars.

Magnolia ‘Atlas’, which appears to perform better overseas than it does here. The flowers are huge and very pretty but it weather marks badly in our rains and wind.

‘Milky Way’ and I am not sure what inspired Felix to use that as its name bar the fact it is predominantly white.

‘Iolanthe’ which remains one of our flagship varieties and a superb performer year in and year out.

Magnolia ‘Mark Jury’ – not one of Felix’s own hybrids but a seedling that arrived here from Hilliers that was meant to flower as ‘Lanarth’. It was the secret weapon that Felix used in the majority of his new hybrids and he named it for his youngest son.

The only two not in bloom today are Magnolia ‘Serene’ which has yet to open and ‘Vulcan’ which has finished already for this season. But here is a photo I prepared earlier of the latter at its peak three weeks ago.

Felix died in 1997, but his spirit and his presence remains very much part of our lives here, never more so than at peak magnolia season.

All the reds

Magnolia 'Felix Jury'

Magnolia ‘Felix Jury’

August belongs to the red magnolias here. They start flowering in July for us but peak this month with September leaning more to the pinks, whites and yellows. While others may delight in one or two red magnolias, we get them en masse. For every named variety, there are many sister seedlings that will never be released but keep on growing and flowering each year. Magnolia trees just get bigger and better as the years go by so the annual display keeps on getting more spectacular.

Magnolia liliiflora 'Nigra'

Magnolia liliiflora ‘Nigra’

When Felix Jury, transferred the pollen of Magnolia ‘Lanarth’ onto Magnolia liliiflora ‘Nigra’ in the early 1960s, I doubt very much that he contemplated a significant breakthrough in the international world of magnolias which would bring fame – though not fortune. He just wanted to see if he could get to large red flowers. Lanarth (technically M. campbellii var. mollicomata ‘Lanarth’) has lovely flower form and at its best is a magnificent purple on a handsome tree. M. liliiflora ‘Nigra’ can have good red colour but with small flowers on a shrubby, spreading plant, it is not showy.

Magnolia 'Vulcan'

Magnolia ‘Vulcan’

The best of the progeny he named Magnolia ‘Vulcan’ and for the next decades, it stood proudly on its own as a major step along the way to red magnolias. Sure, it is not a pure red and the later season flowers fade out to a somewhat murky purple. There is always room for improvement but Felix laid the foundations for what is following now and he showed that a determined, self-taught, hobby plantsman at the bottom of the world could make a major contribution to the international magnolia scene.

Magnolia 'Black Tulip'

Magnolia ‘Black Tulip’

Magnolia 'Burgundy Star'

Magnolia ‘Burgundy Star’

It is perhaps not widely recognised in this country that New Zealand has led the way with red magnolias Our spring display is arguably the best in the world. For reasons yet to be determined, we get deeper and stronger colours here, certainly than in the UK and Europe. There, they are accustomed to white, pink and now yellow magnolias, but the impact of the red types that are now relatively common here never fails to stun international visitors who come in spring. Felix Jury paved the way with Vulcan. His youngest son, Mark – the man to whom I have been married for more decades than we like to tally – continued building on this foundation, as has fellow Taranaki magnolia breeder, Vance Hooper.

Mark’s quest is a pure red magnolia, losing the purple tones that dog the earlier hybrids. He is getting very close – not quite there yet, but close enough to think that it is achievable. Like his father before him, Mark prefers large flowers with solid colour both inside and outside the petals (technically tepals).

Magnolia 'Genie'

Magnolia ‘Genie’

Vance Hooper is going down a slightly different track and shows a liking for bicoloured flowers. In magnolias this often means a paler inner petal. He is also actively selecting for smaller growing trees which are floriferous over a long period of time, often with smaller flowers. His best known red cultivar to date is Magnolia Genie but he too has a whole range of red seedlings under observation and a number of other named varieties already released.

Felix named one purple – Apollo – and one into the red tones, Vulcan. Mark has named only three reds so far – Black Tulip, Burgundy Star and Felix Jury. Of these, Burgundy Star is arguably the reddest but it is the one he named for his father that brings us greatest pleasure. As a juvenile plant, it started off with OTT giant pink blooms but as it matured, the colour deepened and we now get enormous red flowers – though I admit they fade out to pink. This magnolia represents what Felix himself was trying to get to – a rich coloured, very large bloom of the Iolanthe-type.

It is a source of quiet satisfaction to us that Felix lived long enough to see his son achieve this outcome and it was for this reason that Mark named it for his father. We were most gratified to learn that it has been given an Award of Garden Merit by Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society.

I have never forgotten the customer who came in to buy a magnolia some years ago. She didn’t want a red one, was sick of seeing them – too common, she declared. No, she wanted a white one. I think I remained steadfastly polite but as our forest of colour blooms each August, I rememer her blissful ignorance.

First published in the August issue of New Zealand Gardener.

'Lanarth" is in full flower and looking particularly fine this week

‘Lanarth” is in full flower and looking particularly fine this week

Pink & white parade

April is the cruellest month, wrote T.S. Eliot in his famous poem, The Waste Land. Not, I have to say, out of fear of late frosts in a northern hemisphere spring, as one gardening wit thought. Here, it is July that brings us the bleakest days of winter.

But as July progresses, it also heralds the start of a new gardening year. Magnolias and snowdrops mark the passing of winter into spring.

Magnolia campbellii

Magnolia campbellii

The first deciduous magnolia of the season to open is always M. campbellii. There is an attractive group of them in New Plymouth on Powderham Street and the first flowers on those appear in late June, sometimes before all the leaves have fallen. Asphalt and concrete in cities raise temperatures enough to trigger flowering earlier than in country areas. M. campbellii is not a great option in colder parts of the country because frosts can take the early blooms out but where space and climate allow, it is beautiful. Our tree was considerably larger until a falling Lombardy poplar took out half of it, but it is staging a comeback. There is a white form too, but the pink is generally regarded as superior.

Magnolia Vulcan

Magnolia Vulcan

July also sees the first blooms opening on Magnolias ‘Lanarth’ and ‘Vulcan’. The latter was bred here by my late father in law, Felix Jury, and marked the first of the new generation red-toned magnolias. For several years after we first released it, we used to be able to track it flowering down the country by the phone enquiries. It opens in Northland much earlier than it shows colour in Otago and Southland.

Magnolia Lanarth

Magnolia Lanarth

Lanarth (technically M. campbellii var. mollicomata ‘Lanarth’) remains the best purple available, in our opinion, even though its flowering season is brief because it only sets flower buds on the tips and they all bloom at once, rather than in sequence down the stems. It is worth having in a large garden because it will take your breath away for two or three weeks in late July and early August but smaller gardens probably need trees with a longer season.

Galanthus  S. Arnott

Galanthus S. Arnott

At the other end of the scale, we find snowdrops enchanting. We have tried growing a wide range of different species but in the end it is Galanthus nivalus ‘S. Arnott’ that is happiest here in the mid north, although we also get a good run from the larger leafed G. elwesii. Gardeners in cooler, southern areas will have a bigger selection to choose from but we have to go with what performs here.

Snowdrops are one of the few bulbs where the standard advice is to lift and divide in full growth – usually straight after flowering although there is no reason why you can’t do it when they are dormant. They multiply satisfyingly well and we are on a mission to spread these charmers in huge swathes throughout the garden.
What northerners often call snowdrops are not. They are leucojums, commonly called snowflakes. Proper snowdrops are much smaller and prettier. They have a central cup surrounded by three longer petals that look like dainty wings. Leucojums, on the other hand, just have the cup as a bloom and are much stronger growing with plenty of foliage that looks like daffodil leaves. You often see them growing in paddocks around old farmhouses. Some of the bigger flowered selections make good garden plants (Leucojum vernum ‘Gravetye Giant’ is the one we use), because they have a much longer flowering season than galanthus. But they lack the dainty refinement of the proper snowdrop. There can be little doubt about that.

First publshed in the New Zealand Gardener July issue and reprinted here with their permission.

The story of the red magnolias

Vulcan to the left, Lanarth to the right

Vulcan to the left, Lanarth to the right

Few people realise that the story of the red magnolias is a New Zealand story. Probably even fewer realise that when it comes to stronger colours in magnolias, we get the best colour in the world here.

I am talking about deciduous magnolias. The evergreen grandiflora types are resolutely white in bloom and adding colour to the softer-leafed, evergreen michelias is very much a work in progress. But deciduous reds, we do well.

Most deciduous magnolias are in the white and pink colour range and very lovely many of them are too. But with many plant genus, there is always that quest to extend the range of flower form and colour, to build on what happens in nature to get a better performing, showier garden plant. Some of it is about pushing boundaries to see what can be done. A truly blue rose is still an unfulfilled quest but it is highly likely it will come sooner or later.

Some would argue that we do not yet have truly red magnolias and there is truth in that. There is no scarlet, no fire engine red. All the red varieties on the market still retain a blue cast to them and fade out to pink or purple tones rather than to the orange end of the colour spectrum. But if you line one of the red magnolias up against a purple one, it is clear that they are a different colour.

This (liliiflora 'Nigra')

This (liliiflora ‘Nigra’)

I started by saying that the story of red magnolias is a New Zealand story. In fact it started as our family story. Back in the 1970s, Felix Jury wondered if he could get a large flowered, solid coloured red magnolia on a smaller growing tree. He started with the red species – M. liliifora ‘Nigra’. In itself, ‘Nigra’ is a nice enough, low spreading magnolia but nothing showy. He crossed it with the very showy, indubitably purple ‘Lanarth’ (technically M. campbellii var. mollicamata ‘Lanarth’). The rest, as they say, is history.

crossed with this (Lanarth)

crossed with this (Lanarth)

‘Vulcan’ took the magnolia world by storm. This was the break in colour and form. It is not perfect. We know that. The flowers do not age gracefully. It flowers too early in the season for some areas. It does not develop its depth of colour or size of bloom in colder climates and is a shadow of its own self in most UK and European destinations. But after more than 20 years, it is still hugely popular and very distinctive, particularly in Australia and New Zealand. It set the standard and it opened the door to other cultivars.

... and the result was this: Vulcan

… and the result was this: Vulcan

In due course, but slowly, slowly, Mark followed on from his father. He raised hundreds of seedlings and named ‘Black Tulip’ (the darkest of the reds), ‘Felix Jury’ and ‘Burgundy Star’.

Fellow breeder, Vance Hooper, started his programme on the reds and he has named several. The best known is ‘Genie’. Like Mark, he is continuing determinedly down the red magnolia line in the quest for perfection, although improvement or variation will do as steps along the way.

There are other reds on the NZ market now, though none from sustained breeding programmes to match those undertaken by Mark and Vance.

Black Tulip - the first of the second generation red magnolias

Black Tulip – the first of the second generation red magnolias

It appears that it is ‘Black Tulip’ that has enabled the rise of new selections in UK and Europe. It sets seed and every man and their dog is now raising seed and naming selections. Mark is a little wry as he comments that he raised hundreds of plants to get one ‘Black Tulip’ whereas others raise a few seed and name several. He has an ever-decreasing level of patience for amateurs who, as he says, “raise five seedlings and name six of them” based on the first or second flowering only, when he is still assessing seedlings which are 20 years old and showing their adult form, habit and performance.

So New Zealand is about to lose its position of world domination in the red magnolias. But we still get better colour here than others do overseas. There is no certainty yet as to whether that is related to our mild climate, our soils, the root stock used or the quality of light – likely a combination of all. ‘Felix Jury’, which can flower strong red for us is more an over-sized pink flamingo so far in European gardens. We are just relieved that it achieves full-sized flowers and plenty of them, even if it is not red in their conditions.

Magnolia Felix Jury at its best here

Magnolia Felix Jury at its best here

The quest for truer reds continues. A red that loses the magenta hue. Mark is assessing several with which he is quietly very pleased. They are not scarlet but they are an improvement in colour. Just don’t hold your breath. This is a long haul.

Finally, while NZ leads the world in reds, it was USA which gave us yellow magnolias. These all descend from one yellow American species – M. acuminata. I just say that for the record. Credit where credit is due.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

The Winter Garden

Magnolia Lanarth has a short but glorious season

Magnolia Lanarth has a short but glorious season

I have been away for a couple of weeks. To the tropics, no less, but I need to let the experience percolate in my brain a little longer before I can translate it to anything of relevance for gardeners in our temperate climate.

What amazed me was coming home to our winter garden. When I left in mid July, the earliest magnolias were just showing colour and the first blooms, along with some of the narcissi. By early August, we have trees full of bloom. The garden is awash with scores of tui as the campanulata cherries flower. I briefly thought of writing about plants for winter colour but there is just so much in flower that it would quickly descend to a boring list.

If narcissus could look startled, these cyclamineus  growing in the park certainly do

If narcissus could look startled, these cyclamineus growing in the park certainly do

This is our winter, dear readers. Technically spring does not start until September 1. Gardening is different here to many countries.

If you have looked at British and northern European gardens, there is a long spell in winter when nothing happens. People basically put their gardens to bed and retreat indoors. A heavy dependence on deciduous perennials means that gardens which are full of foliage and bloom in warmer months look dead in winter. The majority of their trees are deciduous so become bare skeletons. It is why the definition of form becomes hugely important because that is all there is to look in the depths of winter. Hardy plants like buxus, yew and conifers give accents which are often the only statement plants in those cold months.

The same is probably true of many inland areas in the world (outside the tropics) where temperatures plummet. My Canberra-resident daughter is always astonished when she comes home in winter to see how lush and colourful we are compared to her arid, hard conditions.

Those who shun deciduous plants miss out on the wonder of plants like Magnolia Vulcan

Those who shun deciduous plants miss out on the wonder of plants like Magnolia Vulcan

For starters, our native plants are all evergreen. So too are most of the ornamental plants we favour in our gardens. Over the years, I have met a swag of customers who point blank refuse to have anything deciduous in their garden, which I think is a bit of a short sighted view. Some of the showiest plants of all are those which go dormant in the colder months and then leap into spectacular display – magnolias, for example. To my mind, there is a place for both evergreen and deciduous plants in gardens.

I do, however, find it curious when I see people unquestioningly grabbing the fundamentals of garden design from other climates without considering the application to our conditions. Most of us like some element of design and definition in our gardens, though there are looser styles which don’t rely on these – meadow, woodland, prairie and food forests are examples. But that definition is not essential to give us something to look at in winter.

Similarly, I am inclined to silently snort when I hear people pontificating that foliage and form are the most important elements in plants because flowers are but transient (or worse, vulgar). I think we should celebrate living in a climate which is so temperate that we can have flowers and seasonal colour twelve months of the year, that we don’t need to put our gardens to bed for winter (or indeed for hot, dry summers) and that the clarity of light and the brightness of the sun seems just as great in July and August as it is in January. We just have shorter daylight hours, lower temperatures and a few more storms.

Being so temperate, few gardeners in this country have conditions where there is a sharp seasonal change. Most of us just drift imperceptibly from one season to the next with flowering extended over longer periods. The mid season camellias are at their peak here – more winter than spring flowering in this country. The snowdrops are passing over, but the dwarf narcissi are flowering all round the place and many of the lachenalias are blooming. Daphne scent hangs heavy in the air. The earliest rhododendrons are blooming already, michelias are opening.

And the magnolias. Do not forget the magnolias. Lanarth has a short but spectacular early season. M. campbellii is at its peak, red Vulcan is opening more flowers every day. The most spectacular time of our gardening year is upon us already, and it is still winter.

I rarely complain about the winter garden here.

While not usually fans of variegated flowers, The Czar var on the back lawn is an exception

While not usually fans of variegated flowers, The Czar var on the back lawn is an exception

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

Passing the sniff measurement test – fragrance in the garden

Magnolia Vulcan - spectacular and magnificent in flower but too far up to ever smell

Magnolia Vulcan – spectacular and magnificent in flower but too far up to ever smell

When I entered my teens, my mother gave me a book on charm. I can only recall two pieces of advice from it, though I read it time and again. One was to err on the side of restraint – that one white accessory with a little black dress may be stunning but three or four are bitsy (think Audrey Hepburn-esque style). The second was not to apply perfume before 10am. Until mid morning, the subtle scent from one’s morning bath should carry one through and to add perfume on top is heavy handed and inappropriate. Understatement was an integral part of charm in the sixties.

It was the perfume rule that had me thinking (though the merit of subtlety in accessorizing is a handy rule of thumb and not just for clothing). In years of plant retailing, I met a scary number of people – always women – who would only buy a plant if it was fragrant.

As a defining attribute, I think fragrance is over-rated and doesn’t stand up to logical scrutiny. It is different in cut flowers. The wafting fragrance from a vase of flowers indoors is a delight but even then you need quite a large amount of very fragrant flowers to scent an entire room.

Seriously, apply the sniff test in the garden if you are obsessed with growing scented plants. There are not that many plants that will pass the metre sniff test – that is, able to perfume the air a metre beyond the plant and that usually requires a warm, calm day. Some daphnes will do it, as will the rare Michelia alba and proper orange blossom.

Luculia Fragrant Pearl - passing the 50cm sniff test

Luculia Fragrant Pearl – passing the 50cm sniff test

Come in a little closer and there are a range of plants which will tease you with a hint of fragrance as you pass by – philadelphus or mock orange blossom, luculia, auratum lilies, the stronger scented jonquils. But if you stop and immerse your olfactory organ (that is your nose) in the reproductive organs of the plant (that is the flower), there is a very strong perfume.

Therein lies the problem. Generally you have to stop and sniff a flower to get a true sense of its scent, or, in many cases, any scent at all. And nobody goes around their garden sniffing each and every flower every time. So the presence of perfume is often irrelevant in practice.
Some flowers are so subtly scented that you need the right conditions to get any fragrance at all. Scented camellias are of this ilk, but the public romanticism is such that merely advertising this attribute will help sales. I know.

Then there are plants where scent is related to time of day. How many people have bought the common port wine magnolia (Michelia figo) because of the promise of heady scent, only to be disappointed? The flowers are small and insignificant, the scent comes in late afternoon to night so you won’t get a whiff of anything at other times, and then the actual aroma is closer to the old Juicy Fruit chewing gum than anything else.

The bottom line is that plants have not evolved with scent to please humans. So there is no guarantee that the biggest, showiest and brightest blooms will also have the best fragrance. More often, the scent is there to attract pollinators so it is frequently linked to rather small, insignificant blooms which might otherwise pass unnoticed. There are a whole lot of scented rhododendrons and, almost without exception, they are white or pastel coloured. Bright flowers don’t need scent to attract their pollinator when they do it by colour. Night scented plants are generally pollinated by night flying insects so they don’t need to be fragrant during the day and they don’t need size and colour.

Floral scent is delightful and much appreciated. No synthetic scent can match the best natural fragrances. But those natural scents are by their very essence ephemeral. To extend their life, you have to capture the scent in oils, perfumes, pot pourri and the like. To make it mandatory that a plant be scented before you will buy it, is to elevate one characteristic beyond its merit. I regard scent as a bonus but first and foremost, a flowering plant must be interesting, attractive and appropriate to the position.

And when the next person asks me whether such and such a magnolia is scented, I may weep. We grow many magnolias here and revere them above other flowering trees. Many of ours are large now, and I can safely state that I have never stood beneath a large magnolia in flower and been amazed at the heady fragrance. Stick your nose in the flower and some are pleasantly scented, but that is pretty hard to do when the flower is five metres up the tree. Who cares when the floral display so astounding? Must the lily be gilded further with compulsory scent?