Magnolias are lovely spring flowering trees that really are one of the harbingers of spring. The range of flower colour and form is quite extensive, ranging from clear white, to pink, to rose/purple and even yellow. These blossoms are found at the tips of the branches, and their striking show is even more apparent as the leaves will not appear until after the blooming period is just about done. This is a nice Royal Star Magnolia with double strap like petals.
Royal Star Magnolia
Breeders have been working hard to produce varieties that are more compact than the traditional and still very popular Saucer Magnolia. Marilyn Magnolia (at the top of this posting) is one such variety.
One little known fact about magnolias is that they have a tuberous root system that isn't very amenable to sitting in poorly drained soil conditions for long periods of time. Like a wet potato in the cold cellar, the result is a rotten root system that is unable to bush the tree into leaf or contribute much vigour. Magnolias also like a soil that is a wee bit acidic, but that is easily remedied with an amendment if the leaves tend to be more to the 'yellow' rather than medium green that they usually are.
Leonard Messel Magnolia
Magnolias are best site in locations where they can receive the maximum amount of sunshine. Their large blossoms are formed in the fall, so a somewhat protected location that without excessive cold northwest wind exposure would help to ensure that the blossoms survive the winter.