A new magnolia raised in Galloway is set to turn heads once it starts to bloom in Scottish gardens.

Gardens in spring are filled with many delights, but none of them can quite match the magnolias. From the elegant goblets of Magnlia x soulangeana to the starry white blossoms of Magnolia stellata, this family of shrubs and small trees produces flowers of complete perfection.

Now the ranks of these beautiful blooms has just been swollen by a new introduction that is even more dazzling than the others.

Magnolia ‘Eileen Baines’, which started turning up in nurseries and garden centres for the first time last year, began life as a chance seedling in the garden of Richard Baines, curator of Logan Botanic Garden on the Rhins of Galloway.

It was amongst a batch of plants that Richard had raised from seed a decade earlier and when these finally matured and came into flower, he recognised that one was different from the others.

“They all came from seed collected from a Magnolia wilsoni, which was given to me by the head gardener when I completed a two-year training course at Threave in Castle Douglas,” says Richard.

The new plants were a cross between Magnolia wilsonii and Magnolia sinensis and the one that caught Richard’s attention proved to be outstanding. It had huge, 17cm double white blooms, with a contrasting centre, and a scent that wafted all around the garden.      

Richard watched the magnolia closely for several years in order to see how it would perform and once he was pleased with its growth habit he began taking cuttings. These were shared with a commercial nursery, which carried out further propagation until last year they had enough plants to start selling it to customers.

Now Magnolia ‘Eileen Baines’, which last year won an award from the Horticultural Traders’ Association, is beginning to make its way into gardens around the country and Richard says his mother, whom he named it for, would have been delighted.

“My mum was a wonderful flower arranger and I think she would have been very happy with this bloom,” he says.

The original plant still grows in Richard’s own garden and he says he continues to be excited by its ability to perform more than once in the season.

“It flowers in spring and then again in summer. Last year it had 40 flowers in August.”

Magnolia ‘Eileen Baines’ is available from selected garden centres around Scotland. A full list of stockists is available at www.frankpmatthews.com

Scottish Gardener:

Magnolias come in a range of sizes, from 1.5m shrubs to tall trees. The deciduous kinds are completely hardy but their flowers can be spoiled by frost, so it is always best to plant magnolias in a sheltered position.

These are woodland plants, happiest in dappled shade and with their roots in moist, slightly-acidic, soil. In the garden they should be fed annually in spring with a general fertiliser - more frequently if grown in a container - and watered regularly until they settle in, or during prolonged dry spells.

A thick mulch in spring or autumn will help to conserve moisture around the roots and when grown in lawns and 1m circle of turf should be removed around the trunk to allow water to penetrate the soil.

Magnolias grow at a stately pace, but if they do become too large they can be held in check with light pruning.