Magnolia stellata, sometimes called the Star Magnolia, is a slow-growing shrub or small tree native to Japan. 
We love this small tree because its blooms, along with the Lenten Roses and Forsythia, provide a signal that winter is almost over. The slightly fragrant flowers cover the bare plant in February or March before the leaves appear.  Spring frost can damage the flowers and burn the beautiful white flowers overnight. 
It also rewards with beautiful fall color. Because ours is next to the pond, it’s a favorite perch for songbirds before they dip down to the water’s edge.
Identification and Description
Magnolia Stellata has coarse texture and a rounded form. I ts height reaches 20 feet with 10- to 15-foot spread. This deciduous tree has a slow to medium growth rate and blooms at a young age.
The flowers are white, star-shaped and fragrant, peaking in April. The leaves, which appear shortly after bloom, are dark green when mature and turn yellow in the fall. This tree does best in full sun areas. 
Adapted to Georgia hardiness zones: 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b Atlanta is zone 7b 
References and Additional Information
 UGA Extension: Great Plants under 20 feet for Small Spaces (C 999) – scroll to Star Magnolia
 Wikipedia: Magnolia stellata