Plant of the Week: Magnolia denudata

This has not been a good season for magnolias in Great Britain: the soulangeana hybrids were mostly half out when they were struck by wind, frost and rain, leaving the flowers half-brown and in tatters. Some late flowerers are now faring better, including our young example of M denudata, which is now producing luminous white candles.

The Chinese were planting this aristocratic small tree around their temples and palaces for more than a thousand years before it came west in 1789. Old specimens are worth a pilgrimage: this is an ancient flowering plant which has produced innumerable lovely hybrid children but still has no real equal.