Magnolias are an ancient genus of flowering trees, grown primarily for their attractive flowers. Compared to other flowering ornamental trees, Magnolias seem to have an unsually wide colour palette, with white, pink, yellow, purple, and red varieties available.
Many species are decidous but there are also semi-evergreen and full evergreen varieties.
Magnolias do best in well-drained soils and sheltered conditions. They are tolerant of clay and some varieties will also tolerate chalk, but they generally prefer neutral or slightly acidic conditions. Many are also tolerant of pollution. Magnolias do not like to be transplanted, so plant the tree directly in its final position. They have quite shallow roots, so avoid planting anything else nearby.
Magnolias are mostly very cold-hardy, but paradoxically frost can easily spoil the appearance of the blossom, hence the recommendation to plant in a sheltered position.
You will sometimes see particular Magnolia varieties described as "precocious". In the case of Magnolias this term has a specific meaning - the flowers are borne in advance of the leaves. This is considered a desirable quality because the effect of the flowers is, arguably, heightened when displayed against bare branches.
A good choice for your first magnolia. Large fragrant pink flowers and a neat upright habit.
Elizabeth is a small late-flowering Magnolia which displays yellow spring flowers on bare branches.
Genie is a compact Magnolia, featuring large dark crimson flowers, with a subtle fragrance.
A medium-sized late-flowering Magnolia, one of the best yellow-flowered forms for the smaller garden.