Add drama to your garden with this tree's spectacular flowers, writes Marie Staunton
Magnolias bring a bit of romance into the garden, and who could resist those very beautiful tulip-shaped flowers of the Magnolia x soulangeana?
A garden that can't squeeze in at least one magnolia is missing a very special treat come April.
These are trees that slowly reveal their flowers and, when in full bloom, they could stop traffic.
You probably think I'm being a bit dramatic, but when you spot one I'm sure you will understand what I mean.
The smaller Magnolia stellata has gorgeous star-shaped flowers and a tidy habit -- it requires less space than the others, but it still punches above its weight in terms of its flowering ability.
I have recommended these trees as perfect choices for planting to coincide with the birth of a child, especially for those born in April -- for a little girl it will be magical.
Magnolia 'Heaven Scent', with its delicate pink, scented flowers, makes a beautiful tree for any occasion.
These trees are easy enough to grow, as long as you give them a bit of space to show off their full beauty.
I have seen them growing squashed up against a wall and pruned into very odd shapes, but a tree like this needs to be treated with respect. For your efforts, you will be given the most wonderful bouquet of flowers every spring.
As with any small tree, giving it a good start ensures that it will grow into something that you can be proud of.
Always water well before planting, dig a hole twice the size of the pot and fork over the base.
I would usually put in some good-quality compost mixed with your own soil and pop in the tree.
Don't bury it any deeper than it would have been in its pot -- just level with your soil is fine. Firm in with the heel of your boot and water in.
It is always a good idea to water once a week during the first spring/ summer.
There is a very unusual magnolia called M wilsonii and the best way to admire this beauty is from the comfort of a sun-lounger.
Place the deckchair or lounger just underneath the tree as the flowerheads hang down, so while you are taking your ease, just take a look up now and again and enjoy the view.
I'm always thinking of legitimate reasons to take my ease and who could argue with that one?
The good news is that some magnolias can be grown in a pot on your patio, if space is limited.
Magnolia 'Heaven Scent' is one that will work well in a pot -- as with all pot-grown plants, you will need to water and feed the plant regularly and re-pot every couple of years. Use a loam-based compost and give the plant a sheltered site in full sun.
A garden gives you the chance to create a special place that is personal to you, that you can nurture. In time, it will evolve into the perfect retreat.
Sometimes we can be daunted when we start trying to create the perfect garden, but a garden can be as small as a window box. As long as you enjoy planting it up and take the time to look after it, then it's your perfect garden.
I like my garden because it's filled with plants that I love, and once the grass is nicely cut and the obvious weeds are removed, it looks the part and that makes me happy.
The day it stresses me out, is the day I will throw in the trowel, but I can't imagine that will happen anytime soon.
If you are looking for a little job for the kids to keep them amused during the Easter break, then how about getting them to start the carrots off?
This year, I'm growing mine in pots, raised off the ground to avoid the carrot fly.
Fill a big pot for each of them with good-quality compost, water with a watering can and get them to scatter the seeds over the top.
Then just sieve a little bit of the compost over them and that's it. The beauty of this is that the kids can harvest the carrots when they're young and sweet and, you never know, they might just enjoy them all the more.