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Magnificent Magnolias and grisly Grisolinea

There a few plants that flower so gracefully and add so much to the garden for a brief period then the elegant magnolia, writes Tim Keyworth. To see them thrive is one of the joys of moving from managing a garden in the north east of Scotland where they struggle to the west where they flourish in our milder climate. There is nothing more disheartening then watching a magnolia bud up, about to break out in to flower, only for a sharp frost to snatch away its splendour for the season.

Astonishingly the magnolia has been traced as far back as 100 million years and is thought to be one of the most important plants in evolutionary history. It once thrived over many continents and countries but it is now only indigenous to China and the southern most parts of the United States. The earliest drawings known of the plant date back to Aztec times and it has been traditionally used in herbal medicine. The magnolia takes its name from the French botanist Pierre Magnol, who was one of the first people to properly record this plant in around 1700.

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