When Magnolia Felix Jury first flowered, it was pretty clear that Mark had taken the step that his father, Felix, had been aiming for with his earlier breeding of Iolanthe and Vulcan. Here was the big campbellii type flower on a young plant with strong colour. Mark named it for his father, even though it may be seen as a slightly unexpected memorial for a man who was a quiet and modest person and of slight stature. The magnolia is none of these. It is large flowered, robust and simply spectacular.
What was even more gratifying for us on our recent trip to the United Kingdom was to see how very well Magnolia Felix Jury is performing there. We walked into the Garden House in Devon and there in pride of place at the entranceway was a fine specimen. It was in leaf but Mark still recognised it instantly. The head gardener confirmed that it is in such a prime position because it performs so spectacularly well and we found that in a number of other gardens around the country. To say that Mark was quietly chuffed is a bit of an understatement. There is no certainty that plants which perform well in New Zealand will be equally good overseas.
It is difficult to get full tree shots of magnolias, and especially for the original Felix which is planted in a grove of seedlings, but this plant in our park is about 12 years from cutting.
Black Tulip is also in full flower and it seems that this will be a good season all round here for deep colour. There are various theories internationally as to what affects the depth of colour but most seem to be anecdotal rather than scientific. We just feel that some years here we get better colour than other years. New Zealanders tend to take the red magnolias for granted and don’t really understand that the deep colours are unusual internationally.