Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Spring highlight: Long may she bloom!

Posted: March 30, 2021 at 10:49 am

Last year we asked you to help us choose a cultivar name for our new Magnolia hybrid, Magnolia sprengeri × campbellii. And with a landslide victory, the name chosen was...Westonbirt Hope.

Westonbirt Hope, a new hybrid Magnolia tree in bloom with large cup shaped pink flowers set against a clear pale blue sky

We registered the tree under its new unique cultivar name, by which it is now known to the horticulture world and the wider public. This impressive tree has been growing for nearly 45 years, and is now a Champion Tree of the British Isles, and is an alluring sight for visitors whilst in flower.

The parents of this new hybrid are Magnolia campbellii and our spectacular Magnolia sprengeri var. sprengeri 'Westonbirt Diva,' another must-see of the arboretum in early spring!

Seeds from our 'Diva' were collected in 1970, and one of the resulting young plants were planted near Specimen Avenue in 1975. Magnolias propagated by seed usually take quite a long time to mature to flowering age so it wasn’t until 10-15 years later when the flowers first appeared that it was obvious that the plant was a hybrid.

Westonbirt Hope, a new hybrid Magnolia tree in bloom with large cup shaped deep pink flowers. The silk like flowers are splayed out

So what makes this Magnolia different?

Though like its parents in many ways, this magnolia has some distinct features:

Flowering: Westonbirt Hope flowers 7-10 days later than its parents to protect the flowers from frost.

Tepals: The tepals (outer parts of the flower) of the flowers have been described as ‘red wine’ in colour and it also has fewer of them than either of its parents.

Flower shape: Like its parent, Magnolia campbelli, the sepals and petals spread wide, like a waterlily, while the inner four stays upright.

If you’re keen to see the tree, you can find it growing along Specimen Avenue, and it's in its full glory right now!

Book your time slot ticket here to see all the wonders of Westonbirt this spring…