Garden Lore

“Did you ever meet a gardener, who, however fair his ground, was absolutely content and pleased?…Is there not always a tree to be felled or a bed to be turfed?…Is there not ever some grand mistake to be remedied next summer?”

The Rev Samuel Hole (1819-1904)

Magnolia Sweetheart (AGM)

Magnolia Sweetheart (AGM)

It was a nice surprise this week to discover that Britain’s Royal Horticulture Society has conferred an Award of Garden Merit (commonly called an AGM but not to be confused with annual general meetings) on our Magnolia Felix Jury. This is assessed on how it performs in UK conditions so it is not particularly relevant to NZ. Two of our flagship magnolias – Vulcan and Iolanthe – perform consistently well here but don’t like the cooler, greyer conditions over there. But any international recognition is gratifying.

Mark named the plant for his father, Felix, because it was what the latter had been aiming for in his magnolia breeding and it was only possible for Mark to achieve it by building on the work his father had already done. There are only four other NZ deciduous magnolias which carry an AGM. Athene and Milky Way are earlier hybrids from Felix Jury. Starwars was bred by the late Os Blumhardt in Whangarei and is still widely sold. We have seen it flowering in both Northern Italy and the UK and it looked better there than it does here, in our opinion. And finally, Sweetheart was raised by Peter Cave (formerly Cave’s Tree Nursery near Cambridge) and remains one of the prettiest small to medium-sized pink flowered magnolias that we know.

Magnolia Felix Jury (AGM)

Magnolia Felix Jury (AGM)

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

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