Magnolias are amongst the aristocrats of flowering trees and hold a prominent place in gardens around the world. At PHA, Magnolias can be seen in bloom often as early as late March followed by a parade of species, cultivars and hybrids that extend the bloom season through early September when the last blossoms of the evergreen southern magnolia open. Polly Hill made several unique selections, including a splendid form of big-leaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla 'Julian Hill') that she named for her husband. In June this dramatic tree produces enormous white flowers amongst leaves that are nearly two-feet long! Other Magnolias in the collection flower in various shades of white, pink, reddish purple and even yellow.
As a group, the genus Magnolia is considered to be amongst the earliest flowering plants in evolutionary terms. More than 80 species can be found growing naturally in parts of eastern North America, central America and eastern Asia. All eight North American species can be found at PHA, as well as several Asian species. There are literally hundreds of cultivars and hybrids, of which the Arboretum has a sampling.