If you have a small garden you can still grow a Magnolia. Consider ‘Little Gem,’ which I have grown in two of my past gardens. I planted two ‘Kay Parris’ magnolias (a seedling of ‘Little Gem-next generation) in my last garden, and couldn’t leave one of them behind. A little dazed at first, this Magnolia has settled into the new garden at “The Cottage for Two.” It is doing great.
‘Kay Parris’ is a fast grower, with a more refined, upright habit than Little Gem. There are pure white flowers that begin to set in late spring here in North Carolina and blooming now. They will sporadically bloom into summer. The foliage on this tree is attractive starting with new growth that is pink, quickly turning bright green on top, fuzzy orange-brown on the underside. The leaves have rippled edges that add texture to the garden.
Expect it to reach 6-9 feet tall and 10 feet wide at maturity. Drainage does not have to be perfect, as long as the soil stays consistently moist and never completely dries out. Kay Parris is also very adaptable to pruning and is one of the more cold-hardy cultivars available. Zones 6-9.
I highly recommend a lovely article written by Rachel Billington reflecting on the Magnolia tree outside her childhood bedroom. She includes great info and photos.