CLEAR, white, star shaped flowers in profusion at this time of year are a spectacular addition to the golds and blues of other spring flowers and Magnolia stellata is perhaps one of the best at providing this display, if you give it the right conditions.
It is much smaller, even in maturity, than the more commonly chosen Magnolia x soulangiana, with its huge, tulip shaped flowers, that seem to get frosted every spring.
Stellata will only reach 3 or 4m (10 to13 feet) after 20 years or more, even in good growing conditions.
Like all Magnolias, it is a calcifuge and requires a humus rich, free draining, lime free soil in a sheltered position away from early morning sun to perform to its absolute best.
It will manage for a few years in a container with ericaceous compost if you cannot give it acid soil in your open garden but it must be kept well watered and fed during the summer to ensure a good flower display in the following spring.
There are some excellent cultivars to look out for, including Royal Star with pink buds and white flowers, Rubra with dark pink flowers, Jane Platt with rich pink flowers and Waterlily with larger than normal white flowers.
To help enhance this spring constellation in your garden, why not underplant it with Pulmonarias, wild forget-me-nots and Scillas?