Magnolia conspicua, var. Soulangeana (pictured) was a variety of one of the best known and most valued of hardy flowering trees in the nineteenth century.
The deciduous magnolia was first introduced into Britain from China in 1789. The most well-known of the species in Britain by the late nineteenth century wa the Magnolia grandiflora, a bold evergreen that in the later days of summer produced magnificent white flowers. It did not particularly like strong frosts, and always did best when placed close to a ‘comforting’ wall – there was a particularly fine example to be seen in a private garden in a narrow passage connecting Kew Gardens with the Thames.
Information and image taken from F. Edward Hulme and Shirley Hibberd, Familiar Garden Flowers (Cassell, Peter, Galpin and Co.: London: c. 1890), 5 vols.