Bartender, I’ll have a Magnolia, please!

Magnolia blossoms

Shot at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario, May, 2014

Magnolias in bloom always put me in the mood for swishy dresses, Champagne cocktails and sultry jazz played on a record player. I even get the urge to break out in a pout ala Scarlet O’Hara. Maybe it’s those fleshy, blushing blooms busting out all over their naked branches. When their flowers start to fade, long before leaves appear, magnolias exude a tattered glamour.

So wasn’t I surprised to learn that parts of Asia and plantations in the Deep South aren’t the only places that can lay claim to native magnolias. The Magnolia acuminata (Cucumber magnolia) is not only native to all of the eastern United States, from Florida to New York, but it also calls Southern Ontario home. Or did. They’re now considered endangered in the wild. But you can help spread the love. Cucumber magnolia cultivars are available at Ontario garden centres. If you’re interested about the pros and cons of choosing a native cultivar, click on this link for an excellent article from the Native Plants And Wildlife Gardens site.

But why wait until Ontario nurseries are finally in full swing? Get a face full of magnolia magnificence May 9th. That’s when you can wander down to the heart-stopping magnolia grove at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, Ontario. Their Magnolias by Moonlight event invites guests to stroll down a lantern-lit path to view the luminescent blooms as the moon rises–cocktail in hand, natch.

And check out the RBG’s online guide to their magnolia collection which includes some great trivia on the plants (perfect for breaking the ice at your next veranda cocktail party) and practical advice for siting your new tree.

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