Close your eyes for a second. Imagine a tree with leaves that are glossy green one side, opposing furry brown on the other, produces brilliant white flowers the size of saucers with petals reminiscent of new bed sheets, and has a fragrance that lingers romantically in your garden. Can you see it yet? Yes, it’s a Magnolia Grandiflora.
While most people who’ve been gardening for a while will remember the ‘real’ grandiflora (you may even have one in your garden) there’s a little cousin on the scene who’s stealing all the attention. ‘Little Gem’ is a cultivar first developed by Warren Steed, of Steed Nursery in North Carolina in 1952. Yet it is only since the start of this century that they have started to make waves in Australia.
These trees can grow to about 4m high and live almost anywhere that is not too far from the coast. They will become frost tolerant as they mature. They can even be used as a decorative hedge.