Only a single branch of the Bigleaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla, below) hangs low enough for flowers to be seen. Of course, the huge, fragrant flowers were enjoyed nearer eye level for twenty years or more, so my regret is only that visitors will miss leaves that stretch to twenty-three inches and blooms to a foot across.
Leaves of the Cucumber magnolia (Magnolia acuminata), found in local forests, are substantial in size, though a fraction of the area of the Bigleaf, and certainly a treasure when the native can be found in commerce. ‘Elizabeth’, a favorite in this garden, is a cross with the Cucumber magnolia with smaller leaves, but improved yellow flowers (though pale compared to the splendid ‘Butterfly’).
One of two Sweetbay magnolias (Magnolia virginiana, above) grows vigorously and flowers in swampy ground, with strong growth but no blooms on the other that is too shaded. In constant dampness (now standing water), sweetbay should thrive, but this tree is ideally placed even if this area dries out considerably (I hope).
I am intrigued that one of my favored flowers, the otherwise ordinary ‘Magicien’ deutzia (Deutzia x hybrida ‘Magicien’, above and below), is visited, and presumably pollinated, by numerous ants and few flying pollinators. After flowering, the foliage and growth of ‘Magicien’ are unremarkable, but the blooms strike me as extraordinary.