Without a doubt, the legendary Magnolia tree is the tree most associated with Southern landscapes. Ever since I can remember, my Mother revered their blooms and leaves in her landscape, and they were a staple in her exquisite floral designs as well. I recall that when my parents built their home over forty years ago in the north Mississippi town of Pontotoc that one of the first priorities on their landscape agenda was planting magnolia trees. Today at least ten or so of these Southern beauties grace their property. The towering magnolias over 40 years later form a canopy over the front entrance to their house. My Mother often placed an arrangement of them in the grate of a fireplace or in brass or tole containers throughout our home. They truly can make a statement anytime and any season of the year! Their glossy green foliage looks exquisite alone or incorporated into floral designs.
Below are trees and magnolia blooms from our Mississippi front yard.
Most people recognize the Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) as the state tree of Mississippi while the magnolia bloom is recognized as the state flower. But Alabama has its share of majestic magnolia trees that even rival those from the Magnolia state! Several weeks ago I photographed some breath taking blooms in the towering magnolia trees in Dana McCain’s yard..
The grand magnolias truly provide year round beauty in the landscape, and I think their pods and blooms are lovely and unique in every stage of the flowering process..
Below are some versatile, yet easy, ways to incorporate magnolias into floral design:
A simple copper beverage container makes a welcoming display in the foyer..
A single bloom looks elegant in a concrete urn at my parent’s home.
A simple metal container was filled with water and the stems were inserted. If possible, try to condition the cut magnolia stems in warm water for several hours before arranging.
Rustic wooden containers are ideal for displaying magnolias in. I put a water filled plastic bowl inside to protect the wood.
Nothing defines Southern culture as much as the Southern Milt Julep. Magnolias and mint juleps just seem to go hand in hand when one thinks of the South! My Mother started a collection of pewter mint julep cups for my two sisters and me when we were quite young. Just in case you have a stately magnolia tree to stand under (or even in case you are not so fortunate), I have taken the liberty of including a recipe for classic Mississippi Mint Juleps. This recipe is courtesy of the Mississippi River Distilling Company.
4 fresh mint sprigs
2 teaspoons water
1 teaspoon powdered sugar
2 1/2 ounces bourbon
Muddle mint leaves, sugar, and water in a mint julep cup. Fill with crushed ice. Add the bourbon. Top with more crushed ice, and garnish with a mint sprig.
A bit of Southern wisdom: It’s time for a mint julep when the magnolias start to bloom!