Magnolia campbellii

Magnolia campbellii

The Magnolia sprengeri var. diva is coming into flower, two months early at Borde Hall Garden near Haywards Heath, West Sussex, but with hard frost forecast could this damage the flowers?

We shouldn’t worry too much – after all there is nothing we can do to stop Mother Nature’s quirky turns – and instead of searching on Amazon for arboreal-sized duvets, perhaps we should look forward to what we can expect to see during the ‘normal’ spring magnolia flowering period of March and April.

Borde Hill has a fine collection of Magnolias, many planted in the 1920’s by the gardens founder, Col. Stephenson R Clarke, a mad keen plant collector and a committed magnoliaphile.  Seven are classified as ‘champions’ and two as ‘remarkable’ (champion near miss) by the tree measuring folk. Magnolia campbelli at 19m tall is always an impressive sight – a bright pink beacon in the Sussex countryside indicating to planes in the Gatwick stack that you are over Borde Hill. Another ‘wow’ is Magnolia sargentiana var.robusta.  First flowering in 1938 with five fine blooms (we are told) and again in 1940 with over 100 blooms, nowadays the bloom count must be in four figures.

Whilst having plants in the size ‘premier league’  is important, we, as all good tree folk should, think to the future . In  Col. Clarkes day, magnolia varieties were quite limited. Today there are 100’s to choose from – pinks, whites, purples and even yellow – yes, yellow.  In the past few years we have planted over 75 new varieties including Banana Split, Joli Pompom and Star Wars (whacky names is not usually the main criteria when choosing  new plants).

So as Jack Frost hops around your garden tonight  turning your impetuous blooms brown, rest assured that most magnolia flowers are still tightly tucked up in their furry perules (botanical overcoats) waiting for the warmth of spring to reveal themselves.

For more information visit

Borde Hill Garden, near Haywards Heath, West Sussex is open to the public daily between 10am-5pm weekdays and until 6pm weekends from 19th March-2nd October and 22nd-30th October.

Entry is £8.20 for adults, £7.80 concessions and £5.50 per child.  A family ticket (2+2) is £23.

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