Monday, March 17

Our giant bonsai

I know many bloggers are linking to a meme where they follow a particular tree for a year. I'm not disciplined enough to stick to a monthly update on a particular date but I follow a particular tree in my garden every year. So this year I thought that I would share it's progress with you.

The tree in question is a Magnolia Soulangeana. I can't exactly remember when it was planted but it wasn't a tree we had planned for. The label on the young plant stated that it was Magnolia Liliiflora Nigra - a much more compact shrub with deep purple flowers. Until it flowered we had no idea that the plant was wrongly labelled at which point it had settled in and was growing well so we couldn't bring ourselves to reject it!

I don't have any early photos as the tree was planted pre-digital which meant photography was limited. I do know that in 1989 it was still quite a small bush being battered by builders when we had our extension built - an event that we did photograph.
The tree that you can see in the photo is an ornamental cherry that was removed some years ago - the magnolia is too small to feature.

The builders left behind a sorry looking specimen with broken branches. Contrary to all expectations it survived and grew and grew and (you've guessed it) grew some more.

If it was to remain drastic action was needed and so it was gradually pruned into a sort of giant bonsai (that may be a contradiction but it's the best I can describe it).
Lower branches have been removed and its spread kept in check and now it is anything but unnoticeable! It dominates one side of the house and the garden area around it has been shaped very much by the conditions it creates. The planting is spring orientated so that the flowers can take full advantage of the light before the canopy closes in.

The leaves enrich the soil beneath and also provide the birds and hedgehogs with rich foraging.
Our hellebores self seed and thrive - baby plants have flowered for the first time this year.

The sturdy boughs support a variety of bird feeders. The birds appreciate the shelter the tree provides whilst waiting for a turn on the feeders.
The birds also enjoy browsing the branches for additional living meaty treats. We have a good view of their activities from two of our upstairs windows.
The photos don't really capture how close the branches are to the windows. They need regular trimming to stop them brushing against the glass.

Not only do we have close up views of the birds but each morning when we open the curtains we can appreciate the changes in the tree.

At the moment there are the very first signs of flowers emerging.
Initially the buds are protected by green furry sepals which turn to a brownish colour and are discarded as the flower petals swell. Soon we will open our curtains to masses of pink lily like flowers and that is really an impressive sight.


31 comments:

  1. How wonderful to be able to view the flowers from the window. Will the tree grow any taller do you think?

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    1. I'm not sure whether it will grow any taller, Jessica but it continues to grow outwards which is why we have to 'prune' it.

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  2. I bet you wait in anticipation each spring for the flowers to bloom. It's great to have a tree so close to the house, not only do you get to enjoy it for itself, but you get to see all the birds at close quarters too.

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    1. I think it is one reason why we get so many different birds, Jo

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  3. So beautiful this giant 'bonsai'. My Magnolia soulangeana is of about the same year and a giant too. It is a pity you have to prune it ever so often it is so close to the house, but the advantage to see the flowers opening just in front of the window is great.

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    1. It is lovely to be able to watch the flowers open from 'up in the canopy' Janneke

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  4. Sounds so interesting! It will be a pinky giant bonsai I think. Leafless but full of flowers

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    1. That's right, Endah followed by large leaves.

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  5. I really love the magnolia and how wonderful to have such a good view of the flowers.

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    1. I is, Victoria and at the moment the view changes every day.

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  6. What a delightful sight from inside your windows. I suppose you could say that although now planted in the 'wrong place', there are 100s if not 1000s of worse trees you could have chose.

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    1. It sort of seems to fit in, Angie and you are right we could have a much more 'difficult' tree there

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  7. Oh...I love it, and all the roles it has in helping wildlife.xxx

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    1. The birds love it, Snowbird and I guess it is home to some insects from the way the tits browse it.

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  8. Lovely - I wish I had enough room for one.

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    1. We probably haven't the room, Elaine and wouldn;t have chosen to plant such a vigorous tree where it is but it's a happy mistake.

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  9. It must be wonderful in full bloom.

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    1. It is Alain as ling as the wind doesn't cut short the flowering period.

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  10. Great to have that view from your upstairs windows, worth the need to prune & contain it a bit due to the location!
    Cathy

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    1. We think so too, Cathy and thanks for commenting

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  11. It's absolutely lovely. And if you're ever locked out, you can shin up it and in through the window. I was driving down a road today nearby with a wonderful selection of magnolias. One in particular was stunning - pure white and with nice defined branches. I'm wishing I'd stopped to take some pictures now.

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    1. I don't think I'd fancy that, CJ then if I got anywhere near the window is locked! :D

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  12. Wonderful tree, I always loved big magnolias. They have beautiful flowers, shame they don't like our climate and don't want to grow here.

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    1. I didn't realise that they wouldn't grow in your parts, Leanan

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  13. That tree is a sort of "forest in microcosm" then, providing cover, shade, nutrients etc to so many other living things. I would dearly love to have a huge garden big enough to host a whole glade of trees (preferably with Bluebells underneath them!)

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    1. I'd like that too, Mark along with a meadow area. I tried planting English bluebells but they never grew.

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  14. That tree near the window is awesome! Great view for you!

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    1. The flowers are just beginning to open Malar so more photos soon.

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  15. What a wonderful story to your beautiful 'Bonsai' Sue.

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    1. It's gradually coming into bloom now, Tanya

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