Great Magnolia Garden Watch Launched by Royal Horticultural Society

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) is asking gardeners to help them chart the onset and progress of spring by recording when Magnolia campbellii trees bloom.

Magnolia campbellii are among the tallest of all flowering magnolia trees, with large (30cm/12in across), pink (sometimes white) ‘cup-and-saucer’ flowers that usually open just before the leaves.

In recent years the opening of magnolia blooms in Cornwall, which locally heralds the arrival of spring, has been as much as a month earlier than the Met Office?s official date for the start of season, which this year is 1 March.

The flowering of the trees, which is considered a more specific indicator than daffodils of when spring has sprung, traditionally occurs first in Cornwall due to the county enjoying the longer days and higher temperatures needed to trigger flowering.

But with urban microclimates and milder winters, the RHS is keen to find out if Magnolia campbellii are flowering early in less traditional areas. This information will help the charity map the progress of spring across the UK and help gardeners to better understand the unique climatic conditions of their area.

In addition to asking gardeners to record sightings of the blooms by completing a short survey, the RHS is working with seven head gardeners in the Great Gardens of Cornwall group to document the flowering dates of specific Magnolia campbellii trees in their gardens. When all seven trees have 50 open blooms the project will announce the arrival of spring in Cornwall.

Speaking about the survey, RHS Executive President Jim Gardiner says: ?The flowering of the Cornish magnolias should be on everyone?s must see list. The scale of these trees and the beauty of their spring buds opening is a magnificent sight.

?I?m delighted that that the RHS has been able to get more closely involved with the 2015 official countdown to spring and are really excited to see the results of the national survey.?

Gardeners are invited to take part in the survey by visiting: rhs.org.uk/magnoliasurvey2015

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