A long recovery

I bought this Magnolia loebneri 'Leonard Messel' six years ago on the way back from the Isle of Man.  It was a bargain buy as it was reduced to only £25.  It was a large specimen and worth every penny.  It was love at first sight and I had to have it.  Had I have been in my own car it would have been impossible, my car was tiny and this plant was not, however I was travelling in a camper van at the time so there was room for it to fit in the back.  Except it did have to share the space in the back as there was also a motorbike in the van at the time (not mine I hasten to add).  This meant that it was very hard to get the Magnolia into the van as the doorway was blocked by the very heavy bike.  With no ramp to get the bike in and out it was not possible to take it out of the van.  So there was a comedy moment of taking out a van window and loading the plant through it.  The Magnolia thankfully survived this indignity very well.  It duly arrived home and I planted it out a few days later.  The plant was so heavy I hurt my back quite badly lugging it down the garden.  This plant was already sowing the seeds to become a saga.
That first year the Magnolia finished blooming but struggled after planting as it was a dry year.  I kept it watered but it was not hugely happy.  The next year it was apparent it had died back quite a bit.  I pruned off the dead wood and the Magnolia sulkily produced a flower or two.  It was about halved in size at this point.

Another year passed, it was growing a bit, but it was still not thriving, there was further die-back and I began to seriously wonder if it would survive.  I kept it well watered and hoped and hoped that it would become happy again.
The last couple of years have been far less dry.  Whilst there are downsides to so much rain the upside is that some plants are much happier.  I think the combination of getting enough rain and also just maturing a few more years, the Magnolia this year has turned a corner and is suddenly looking amazing.
It is joy on a stick.
Now I am full of confidence that every year it will bloom and bloom and be as wonderful as I had hoped the first day I saw it.


  1. I love Magnolias and this is a wonderful one and I think it had her bad times and is starting good times now!

  2. I bought the same variety two years ago when it had half a dozen flowers. Last year it produced one and this year none. It looks like leaves are starting to sprout now but it hasn't put on any growth since I've had it. It can't be lack of water after this winter... maybe they just resent being moved and need to settle in? Whatever, I hope mine goes the same way as yours, it's a beauty!

  3. I'm sure I read that magnolias, like witch hazel, sulk for a while after moving and when young. Saying that I have just moved my spindly looking stellata which this year actually has flowers so no doubt next year we will be back to square one

  4. That was well worth persevering with and now you're reaping the rewards, and more hopefully as years pass by. Magnolias can be sensitive souls, sometimes sulking after having their roots disturbed (even the act of planting out). If that was the case the sulking must be over :)

  5. Congrats on hanging in there and finally getting the joy of it flowering!

  6. What a beautiful tree, no wonder you were determined to bring it home, it's wonderful. It probably just needed to get it's roots out into the soil before it felt happy, hopefully it will continue to get better each year now.

  7. "Joy on a stick", what a great description!


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