Felix’s magnolias on a glorious spring morn

After posting my piece on petal carpets this morning, it was such a gorgeous spring day I headed down to the park with camera in hand. And today, it was Felix’s magnolias that were at peak glory. It’s often an odd feeling living on a family property steeped with the history of earlier generations. Not ghosts, more like an enduring presence. And I wanted to pay tribute to Felix’s little collection.

Felix Jury in 1985, photo by Fiona Clark

I have recorded the history often enough here  so today is just the pleasure of the sight of so much in bloom. Sure, some have been superseded over time but these were ground breaking hybrids in the 1960s and created a special place for New Zealand in the world of magnolias. They also provided the platform for Mark to build on with his next generation hybrids.

The purity of ‘Lotus’, Felix’s best white, is hard to beat on its day.

‘Apollo’ was Felix’s best purple. This and the other magnolia photos were taken this morning. Did I mention what a glorious spring day it has been?

This one was never named and is the only unnamed seedling I am including today because at its peak, it is so very pretty. We just refer to it as “Apollo’s sister” because it is from same cross and batch of seed.

Magnolia ‘Athene’. There was a certain classical theme running through the naming of some of these cultivars.

Magnolia ‘Atlas’, which appears to perform better overseas than it does here. The flowers are huge and very pretty but it weather marks badly in our rains and wind.

‘Milky Way’ and I am not sure what inspired Felix to use that as its name bar the fact it is predominantly white.

‘Iolanthe’ which remains one of our flagship varieties and a superb performer year in and year out.

Magnolia ‘Mark Jury’ – not one of Felix’s own hybrids but a seedling that arrived here from Hilliers that was meant to flower as ‘Lanarth’. It was the secret weapon that Felix used in the majority of his new hybrids and he named it for his youngest son.

The only two not in bloom today are Magnolia ‘Serene’ which has yet to open and ‘Vulcan’ which has finished already for this season. But here is a photo I prepared earlier of the latter at its peak three weeks ago.

Felix died in 1997, but his spirit and his presence remains very much part of our lives here, never more so than at peak magnolia season.

12 thoughts on “Felix’s magnolias on a glorious spring morn

  1. tonytomeo

    I remember those names from when we grew them. Ours looked nothing like these of course. They just grew into nursery stock and were sold before maturing. There are some out in the arboretum that will eventually grow up into mature trees.

      1. tonytomeo

        The arboretum contains the stock plants for the rhododendrons, so names are very important. Although we do not grow magnolias, the trees are labeled with the same diligence as the stock plants.

      2. tonytomeo

        Well, it is after all, an ‘arboretum’. I will eventually write an article about how important this sort of thing is. The California fan palms (as in from ‘California’) at the Winchester House are labeled as such, but that they are from Africa. Yes, ‘California’ fan palms from Africa. Where in Africa? I don’t know Maybe Africa is a small enough place that it does not matter. I worked with some historic Memorial redwoods in Sunnyvale that are labeled as the deodar cedars that were removed decades ago. When the area around the trees was redeveloped in about 1978, the plaques were removed from the trees, tossed into a pile, and reassigned to the trees very randomly when they were put back later. Redwoods were labeled as cedars, and cedars were labeled as redwoods. These were memorial trees for local war heroes, and it just does not matter.

  2. Tim Dutton

    Very nice to see them all, thank you. We have two of Felix’s Magnolias: ‘Apollo’ is in full bloom at the moment and we recently bought ‘Iolanthe’, but the buds on it are yet to open for us.

  3. Robyn Kilty

    What a lovely post Abbie – so nostalgic but informative at the same time. Those Magnolia names pertaining to the classical world feel are unforgettable. They stick in the mind from choosing varieties for planting designs for others. I dont often see your posts but must keep an eye out for them.

  4. bittster

    Wow. I admire your restraint in only showing as few photos as you have. They’re beautiful in any weather, but against that blue sky they’re incredible. I wish I were brave enough to try one in this cold corner of the US.

    1. Abbie Jury Post author

      Hahaha! I have MANY photos but I don’t like reading blogs where the author posts way too many photos – often just slight variations on the theme. That is why I set my own limits on that post – mostly just one of each variety, all taken yesterday morning. Self editing.

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