Over 80 magnolia collectors, growers, and connoisseurs from eight countries visited the Arnold Arboretum on Saturday, May 7, as part of the annual Meeting of the Magnolia Society International (MSI). The meeting included several field trips to public and private gardens and nurseries in southern New England. Arnold Arboretum tours were offered to participants by Oren McBee, nursery and greenhouse manager at the Arnold Arboretum and MSI board member; Peter Del Tredici, senior research scientist at the Arnold Arboretum and MSI member for more than 30 years; and Stephan Cover, curator of the Harvard University Museum of Comparative Zoology’s ant collection and MSI board member.
Other excursions included Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Polly Hill Arboretum, Broken Arrow Nursery, and the private collections of Stefan Cover and Rosemary Monahan, Katie Kleitz and Iris Lee Marcus, and Harry Heineman.
Magnolia spectators caught the last few days of peak bloom for the famed yellow magnolia hybrids, first developed in cultivation in the late 1970s. Fitting to the occasion, the D. Todd Gresham Award was given to Lola Koerting, former director of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Kitchawan Research Station, for the critical role she played in developing and introducing some of the first yellow magnolias to horticulture. The award was also presented to Stephen Spongberg, former horticultural taxonomist at the Arnold Arboretum and director emeritus of the Polly Hill Arboretum, during a ceremony at the Polly Hill Arboretum on May 10.
The meeting also included presentations by experts in the New England horticultural community, including a keynote lecture on Saturday night by Del Tredici on “A brief history of magnolias at the Arnold Arboretum.”
The MSI Annual Meeting provides an excellent opportunity to learn about the diverse aspects of magnolias while mingling with experts and novices from around the world. For more information about the Magnolia Society International, visit www.magnoliasociety.org or find them on Facebook!