Member Spotlight: Ray Tessmer

 The Magnolia Society attracts magnoliaphiles from all walks of life and all parts of the world. This month, we catch up with Ray Tessmer. Ray has been a member of the Magnolia Society International since 1981. He has served on the MSI Board of Directors and also was Chair of the Seed Counter for eight years.

Q: Tell us about your magnolia collection

Ray: I live with my wife Lorie in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where I have a garden with a dozen or so magnolias.

Q: How did you originally get interested in magnolias?

Ray: As a child, I was amazed by the saucer magnolia (Magnolia Ă—soulangiana) in my grandfather’s garden in western New York. I have loved magnolias ever since!

Q:  What magnolia do you want to plant next?

Ray: I am growing some Magnolia cylindrica seedlings (obtained through the Seed Counter) and looking forward to planting these. I would also like to plant a ‘Golden Sun’ and a Magnolia sieboldii

Q:  What magnolia do you wish you could grow?

Ray: I wish I could grow a Magnolia sargentiana var. robusta in my garden. I was very impressed with this when I saw it blooming in England! I would also like to grow a true Magnolia cylindrica.

(Interviewed by Gary Knox 5 October 2016; Pictures by Gary Knox)

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