The Plant Lover's Guide to Magnolias by Andrew BuntingThe Plant Lover's Guide to Magnolias by Andrew Bunting

The Plant Lover's Guide to Magnolias

byAndrew Bunting

Paper over Board | April 13, 2016

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Magnolias—beloved for their iconic spring blossoms—are among the most popular flowering trees. In The Plant Lover’s Guide to Magnolias expert Andrew Bunting shares a plant directory including 146 of the best magnolias for the garden. Featuring information on growth, care, and design, along with hundreds of gorgeous color photographs, it covers everything a home gardener needs to introduce these delightful trees into their garden.

Andrew Bunting is the assistant director of the Chicago Botanic Garden. Prior to that, he worked at the Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College where he helped build a national collection of magnolias recognized by the North American Plant Collections Consortium. He is on the board of directors for the Magnolia Society International and ...
Title:The Plant Lover's Guide to MagnoliasFormat:Paper over BoardDimensions:232 pages, 9 × 8 × 0.75 inPublished:April 13, 2016Publisher:Timber PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1604695781

ISBN - 13:9781604695786


Read from the Book

Introduction: Why I Love Magnolias I spent my high school years in a split-level house in the south suburbs of Chicago, in a little town called Manhattan. Surrounded by mostly uninspring plantings—a few ubiquitous elm trees, a blue spruce in the front yard, and a few bur oaks—it was there, almost by necessity, that I began to take a keen interest in gardening. My mother gave me full reign in the yard; she even let me install a fairly large vegetable garden out front, the only part of the yard that had sun—a first in this somewhat conservative midwestern community! I also started an annual garden both from seed and from plants I had grown under lights in the basement. Ageratums, cosmos, impatiens, and marigolds were all easy to grow from seed. In the vegetable garden, I grew tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, radishes, and a bumper crop of cucumbers. Furthering my plant obsession, my bedroom window sat literally in the canopy of an old majestic saucer magnolia, Magnolia ×soulangeana, that bloomed reliably and in profusion every spring. The tree was most likely planted when the house was built, so the branches engulfed the top and sides of the house. The windows in that bedroom provided a great vantage point for studying the magnolia. This tree in particular opened my eyes to the beauty of flowering trees. My appreciation for magnolias certainly started there, but it only expanded as I learned more. In my college ornamental horticulture program I was required to complete two internships, one of which landed me at Morton Arboretum in Lisle, Illinois, and the other at Chicago Botanic Garden. Along with my coursework, these experiences opened my eyes to the wide variety of magnolias. Ray Schulenberg, then curator at Morton Arboretum, would take us on regular walks to show us the breadth of the collection, and Chicago housed a wide variety of trees. It was at Scott Arboretum of Swarthmore College, however, where I would work for 26 years, that my passion for the genus really exploded. Their collection of predominantly M.×soulangeana, M. kobus, and M. stellata cultivars dates all the way back to the 1930s. And around the borough of Swarthmore, equally majestic specimens are easy to come by. I remember local plantsman Charles Cresson telling me about these specimens in the late 1980s, and they are only more impressive today. As curator at the arboretum, we built our collection from about 50 to 200 cultivars over a 20 year period. When I joined the board of directors for the Magnolia Society International around 2008, I was surrounded with people who ate, drank, and slept magnolias. Spending time with experts like Richard Figlar, Larry Langford, Raymond Sutton, Kevin Parris, Phelan Bright, and others made my passion grow even stronger. Before this experience, I was not fully aware of the incredible diversity of magnolia cultivars, hybrids, and species, nor was I aware that magnolias are cultivated around the world as important ornamental plants. For years, I knew there were some magnolias found in the United States and many others found throughout parts of Asia, but from my time with the Magnolia Society International, I have seen the global diversity of the species. Magnolias are found throughout the Caribbean, in Central America (with over 30 species in Mexico, alone), throughout all of southeastern Asia (with over 100 species in China), and in Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, and others. Magnolias thrive outside of our gardens, too. Over the last several years, I have had many exciting opportunities to see native magnolias growing in situ. On a trip to Sichuan, China, in 2010, my colleagues and I saw beautiful specimens of Magnolia sargentiana and M. dawsoniana. Each was probably close to 100 years old, if not older, and it was impressive to see them in such a mature state. In 2012 in Taiwan, we collected M. compressa and searched for the elusive southern species, M. kachirachirai. In 2013 in northern Vietnam, we saw several impressive trees, including M. cathcartii, M. foveolata, and the local endemic M. sapaensis. And in January of 2014, I joined several other board members from the Magnolia Society International on a trip to Colombia where we were hosted by fellow member Marcela Serna Gonzalez, who showed us many incredible wild populations of magnolias, including M. hernandezii and M. jardinensis, among others. Since joining the board of the Magnolia Society International, my knowledge and appreciation for the diversity of hybrids and cultivars, as well as naturally occurring species, has grown exponentially. At home, at Scott Arboretum, and for my design and build company, Fine Garden Creations, I have taken full advantage of the wide-ranging roles magnolias can play in the garden and landscape. Depending on the cultivar or species, and the area of the world where you live, you can find a magnolia in flower every month of the year. In Cuba, the native magnolias start flowering in November. In Tallahassee, Florida, the earliest cultivars, such as Magnolia zenii ‘Pink Parchment’ and M. ‘March Til Frost’, start flowering in January. In the Mid-Atlantic states, the first magnolia to flower is the Yulan magnolia, M. denudata. The sweetbay magnolia, M. virginiana var. australis, can bloom from mid- to late spring in its native habitat. They are versatile, too. While many magnolias prefer or need well-drained soils, there are some, like the umbrella magnolia, Magnolia tripetala, and M. virginiana var. australis that fulfill an important niche in the garden and can grow in very wet conditions. Magnolia tripetala, with its large, tropical foliage, can produce a stunning effect when planted alongside a stream. There are many evergreen options, as well. For decades, the primary evergreen magnolia used was the southern magnolia, Magnolia grandiflora, but today many excellent selections exist, such as M. doltsopa, M. insignis, M. yuyuanensis, and M. figo, along with many hybrids. And the color range for flowers is quite impressive, including pure white, cream, sulfur yellow, golden yellow, pink, cerise, rose, purple, and now nearly red. Some plants are quite small and shrubby, like M. virginiana var. australis Sweet Thing ‘Perry Paige’, while others, like the cucumber tree, M. acuminata, can grow to be over 100 feet (30 m) tall. Magnolias have indeed been popular for centuries, but today they are experiencing quite a renaissance—perhaps more so than the genus has ever experienced before. New species are being discovered; there are many global conservation projects occurring to preserve magnolias in Cuba, Colombia, China, Mexico, Costa Rica, and the United States; and hybridizers are using the vast wealth of genetic material available to create magnolias that vaguely resemble traditional magnolias. From childhood and throughout my youth and professional life, magnolias have been a steady presence. Undoubtedly, that massive saucer magnolia outside my window was the starting point, but even after all these years, my passion and excitement for the genus only seems to intensify. This book is my attempt to share that with you.  

Editorial Reviews

“Bunting details what temperature zones in which they'll grow and flower and the type of soil, sunlight and care they need to thrive year after year. He also explains how to grow more magnolias from seeds and stem cuttings in case you get hooked.” —Chicago Tribune “The newest additions to Timber Press's The Plant Lover’s Guide series—a wonderful set of gardening books for home gardeners and professionals alike—this volume spotlights the diverse genus Magnolia. In it, Andrew Bunting shares his extensive knowledge of and experience with these plants, acquired through a long career at various botanic gardens and involvement with the Magnolia Society International...Bunting's real fondness for magnolias and his extensive knowledge about the genus are evident on each page. His evocative writing style and attention to detail mesh into an educational and inspiring book that is in-depth yet readable. It is ideal for really getting to know this popular and diverse genus.” —The American Gardener “The book is written by an expert, but rather than being a scholarly tome, it is a memoir combined with a compendium of members of this beloved genus. . . . the book includes cultural advice based on Bunting’s personal experience as well as design suggestions and propagation techniques.” —Country Gardens “Of interest and relevance to all growers and would-be growers of magnolias anywhere.” —The Garden “Andrew Bunting has spent a lifetime studying and discussing magnolias and this book offers an eye-catching distillation of his knowledge. Most of the book is given over to a compendium of 146 species and cultivars along with chapters outlining the genus from garden design and botanical perspectives. There are helpful lists of magnolias to suit different purposes, so that it should be quite easy to find a plant to suit.” —Gardens Illustrated best book of the year