In the grounds of Château Sénailhac stands a Magnolia Grandiflora and its fragrance was stunning. It drifted across the vines and I had to take some photos of it! Strangely enough the Magnolia takes it name from a French doctor and professor of biology – Pierre Magnol (1638 – 1715). He was physician to Louis XIV and is famous for being one of the first innovators of the current botanical scheme of classifying plants.
Magnolia is an ancient genus. Having evolved before bees appeared, the flowers developed to encourage pollination by beetles. As a result, the carpels of Magnolia flowers are tough, to avoid damage by eating and crawling beetles. Fossilised specimens of M. acuminata have been found dating to 20 million years ago, and of plants identifiably belonging to the Magnoliaceae dating back to 95 million years ago.
The first Magnolias from China arrived to Britain about 1780 and you can often seem them adorning the walls of stately homes.
I loved the scent so much that I have bought one to grow up the side of our house - apparently they can take up to 7 years to flower when they are young so I may have a long wait to see and smell the blooms!