Magnolia trees used as historical spring barometer bloom

Six giant magnolia trees found in six Cornish gardens have bloomed, prompting the gardens to declare that spring has arrived.

Magnolias in bloom. Image: Borde Hill Gardens
Magnolias in bloom. Image: Borde Hill Gardens

The trees have historically been the first to bloom in the UK each year because of Cornwall’s comparatively warmer climate, according to the garden owners. 

The trees, which were planted between 1860 and 1976, can be seen in 6 gardens across Cornwall including: Caerhays Castle gardens, Trebah Garden, Tregothnan, Trewidden, Trewithen and the Lost Gardens of Heligan. When each tree has more than 50 blooms, gardeners declare that spring has arrived, in Cornwall at least. 

Last year the great magnolia trees announced Spring on 10 February. Almost 3 weeks earlier than this year.

The gardens club together to promote their gardens when the trees have passed the 50-bloom mark, partly because otherwise visitors arrive too late to experience the Magnolia blooms.

Chairman of the Great Gardens of Cornwall, Charles Williams, said: "Our wonderful climate here in Cornwall means we are weeks ahead of the rest of the country and it’s important to us that people visiting the area don’t miss out."

Borde Hill Gardens in West Sussex is also hosting a talk on the subject of magnolias by leading horticulturalist, Jim Gardiner, former RHS vice president.

Magnolias, aristocrats for gardens of all sizes’ on 5 April. Gardiner is an expert on Borde Hill's collection as he has been visiting the garden four or five times a year for four decades. He is the author of Magnolias: A Gardner’s Guide and the first non-American President of the Magnolia Society International between 1998 and 2002,

Borde Hill is known for having one of the finest collections of magnolias in England with 7 listed as ‘Champion’ trees and 2 listed as ‘remarkable’ which are significant specimens.


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