My home garden is in Monroe, Ohio. Officially in USDA hardiness zone 6a, we still, however briefly, have hit zone 5a lows in winters not to distantly past. The soil in my immediate vicinity is Eden silty clay. In many local developments, the good stuff has been scraped away and sold off as topsoil to some other poor schmuck who also had THEIR upper soil horizons scraped away. Whatever we had upon our arrival has been amended with horse manure, coir, and compost. There is no bed in my yard that couldn’t have been amended some more.

12 March 2017

Cold reality

Every year is strange in its own way. This year, thus far, has been unseasonably warm. When I say thus far, I'm actually being somewhat generous, as temperatures returned to March normal on Friday. Unfortunately, certain plants had already developed to the point where their cold-susceptible flowers were already open. Magnolia x loebneri 'Leonard Messel' is one of those.

Magnolia x loebneri 'Leonard Messel' on 10 March, 2017

Grown here in a partly shady location, more flowers can be expected in a sunnier spot.
In the past, I have observed 'Leonard Messel' locally flowering around the second week of April, and in 2016 mine was in full bloom by the 18th of March. And while it's still possible for frosts to occur through April and early May, the chances of it happening are typically lower. Overall, my 'Leonard Messel' has fared well when it was in bloom.

In addition to being so beautiful, the flowers can smell great (more so on a warm day).

The low for Saturday the 11th was 21°F.

By Saturday afternoon, the overall plant didn't look too different, but closer inspection revealed the tender nature of the flowers:

Magnolias that tend flower early in the season (M. kobus, M. stellata, M. x soulangeana, etc.) will always be at risk of getting damaged by cold snaps, but in the years when they flower unscathed, they can be fabulous. Even though there will be occasional years that disappoint, in the long run you will appreciate having taken the risk of growing one.

There's always next year.

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