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Magnolia × kewensis 'Wada's Memory' - magnolia 'Wada's Memory'


’Wada’s Memory’ was named in memory of the famous Japanese nurseryman, Koichiro Wada. It is fast-growing and flowers abundantly while still young. Washington University in Seattle received a batch of seedlings from Wada in March, 1940. As they grew they all looked like typical Kobus magnolias except one. It grew quickly to a considerable size and flowered young. It is assumed to be a spontaneous cross between two Japanese native species, the Kobus magnolia (M. kobus) and the willow leaf magnolia (M. salicifolia).

The large scented flowers cover the trees in a white cloud as soon as the weather warms in spring, before the leaves appear, in Finland about the end of April. At first the petals, in excess of 10 cm, are erect but gradually lower to horizontal as the flowers open, and finally droop. Even the gentlest breeze makes them flutter like a cloud of large white butterflies. When the flowering finishes after a couple of weeks, the opening of the large mahogany-red leaves offers another grand spectacle. During the summer, when the leaves have greened, the tree is also attractive and in autumn the foliage turns a brilliant yellow. Even in winter, after the leaves have fallen and the tree is bare, it holds out a promise of things to come, with large flower buds which have formed during the summer at the end of each branch, about 5 cm and covered in silky hair.

'Wada's Memory' has proved one of the hardiest of the magnolias on the south-west coast. In warm enclosed gardens and other spots where it is well-protected it would be worth trying even in colder inland areas.


Magnolia 'Esveld Select'

In the 1980s, the Dutch nurseryman R. Bulk found an unusual seedling growing in Esveld nursery among a sowing of the Kobus magnolia, and took it into propagation. Mr. Bulk later called his discovery a variety. It develops into a regular, erect, strong-limbed tree which flowers a little later than the ordinary Kobus magnolias, with slightly larger flowers. The new leaves are characteristically brownish red in the same way as the well-known variety ‘Wada’s Memory’.

Although ’Esveld Select’ is listed in nursery catalogues as a Kobus magnolia (Magnolia kobus) it is believed to be a cross with another hardy Japanese species, the willow leaf magnolia (M. salicifolia). These hybrids are often produced when the original species are grown close to each other, and are known by the name Magnolia × kewensis.

There seems to have been no experience of growing 'Esveld Select' in Finland until Arboretum Mustila obtained seedlings in 2010. So far it has been one of the most vigorous and problem free of the magnolias at the Arboretum. However, only time will tell whether it will continue to thrive in the long term, because at Mustila even the hardiest magnolias are growing at the extreme limits of hardiness.


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