THERE are more than 220 species of magnolias. The evergreen varieties are mainly from North America and deciduous, with their spectacular flowers, are native from the Himalaya to Japan.
At this time of the year, the deciduous varieties are heavy in bud with flowering taking place in early spring.
There was a huge upsurge in the interest of magnolias following their introduction by the early plant hunters into British and European gardens from the East in the mid 1800’s to the early 20th century.
One prominent breeder of magnolias is the Jury family from NZ. Mark Jury has continued his father Felix’s breeding program of amazing new introductions.
Now recognised throughout the world, I saw some of the Jury magnolias last year in garden centres in England and Holland.
To name a few of the ones I’ve seen in garden centres here are “Black Tulip”, which does resemble a tulip; then there’s “Vulcan”, “Royal Purple”, “Magnificent” and “Sunsation”. Notwithstanding these stunners, there are hundreds of many old-fashioned magnolias still as popular as ever, such as M. soulangeana series.
NECTAR-eating birds on the lookout for suitable flowers delight in visiting grevilleas. These winter-flowering shrubs give colour in the garden when it’s looking for all the help it can get.
There is an ever-increasing variety due to continuous breeding programs. You could be tempted to buy some of these just for the name alone. Some examples include “Strawberry Smoothie”, “Raspberry Ripple” or just plain “Winter Delight”. I encourage you to plant these, even if it’s just for the birds’ sake for winter food.
- Plant asparagus “Purple Phantom” to add colour to summer salads.
- Plant summer-flowering bulbs such as liliums now.
- Most herbs can be planted now.
- A task for a wet day, check the mower blades, change the oil for four-stroke mowers and clean the whole machine.