Magnolia soulangeana (The Saucer Magnolia)
This little tree is best known for its copious quantities of pink/white flowers in spring but actually forms a lovely broad crown (to 20ft high and 20ft wide after 30 years) on a multi-stemmed trunk. It clips well (to accentuate the domed crown) and the flowering is little affected by the clipping – as long as it’s done soon after flowering has finished.
Trees like this are so often only noticed when they flower in spring and then overlooked for the rest of the year but the opportunities for a spot of Creative Maintenance on a tree of this kind are enormous : expose the trunks by removing visually confusing branches and clip the top to give a tight domed profile.
They’ll grow on most soils (except thin soil over chalk) and are unfussy about position as long as it’s not in the teeth of a howling gale or deep in the forest.
Propagated by cuttings.
N.B. When clipping several plants with the same tool, have a bucket containing a 5% bleach solution and swish your blades around for 30 seconds between plants to sterilise them. This will help avoid the chance of cross contamination of disease.
As with all woody plants, plant high, exposing as much of the taper at the base of the trunk as possible. Allowing soil to accumulate round the base of a tree can be fatal. Keep very well watered when first planted.
Hardiness level Green