Trees that are recommended by either the Royal Horticultural Society or the US National Arboretum are generally worth a good look. Not only do these organisations evaluate the aesthetic value of a plant but they also consider the health, ease of maintenance and adaptability. One tree developed by the National Arboretum of the US is definitely a stand-out. It is Nimbus magnolia or Magnolia hypoleuca X virginiana var. virginiana 'Nimbus', a cross between Whitebark magnolia, Magnolia hypoleuca, which is native to Japan and an American magnolia, Sweetbay, or Magnolia virginiana. This tree has a broad range of adaptability and is able to withstand temperatures down to just below 0 Fahrenheit as well as long, hot subtropical summers. In the warmer end of the range it is more evergreen like its American parent but in the colder end it becomes more deciduous like its Japanese parent.  The foliage is attractively dark green and pale on the underside making an excellent background for the beautiful flowers. These large blossoms are the color of pale ivory and 6 inches across. They have a lemony sweetness to them and seem to be even more fragrant than either of the parents. These immaculate blossoms appear in late spring to early summer and bloom for several weeks. The bark is smooth and pale grey, rather like the Japanese Whitebark magnolia.

This impressive new tree can tolerate sandy loam or clay soils. It can take partial sun to full sun and would make a superb specimen tree. It is quite vigorous and may eventually reach 30 feet or more in height. In ten years, under favorable conditions, it should be 25 feet with a 15 foot spread. Nimbus magnolia is not drought tolerant. It is hardy throughout the UK and the southern half of the US and the milder coastal zones. It's well adapted to Australia and  parts of New Zealand.


Nimbus magnolia

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