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Just sometimes you meet a truly, truly memorable plant. The kind of plant you just know you’ll think about for the rest of your life, in an “oh yeah… now that was amazing” sort of way.

This happened to me last week, while on holiday in Cornwall (of which much more later). The plant in question was a Michelia doltsopa in Caerhays – a fabulous garden, with a National Collection of magnolias and their close relatives, which include the Michelia family.

Now, I discovered while doing a bit of research for a recent article that this not-very-commonly-grown tree is causing some excitement in magnolia-growing circles (not very mainstream, admittedly) – since one of its close relatives (M. yunnanensis) in the process of being recategorised as a magnolia. Well – all I can say is, you might think magnolias are spectacular – but cop a load of this.

(my eight-year-old doesn’t much like having her photo taken)… and every single one of those millions of flowers looked something like this:

You could walk right inside the tree, and in the centre, too, this was a magical, architectural, unforgettable plant:

And as if all that wasn’t enough, the whole thing was scented – a rich, musky, sultry scent that went right to your head. Magnolia fans – eat your hearts out.