Tag Archives: Magnolia Athene

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 Sure, some have been superseded over time but these were ground breaking hybrids in the 1960s and created a special place for New Zealand in the world of magnolias.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.

Plant Collector: Magnolia Athene

Magnolia Athene in her glory

Magnolia Athene in her glory


Thank goodness for the mid season magnolias this year. There we were, as usual, admiring the early season ones in flower when a once in a hundred year event hit here – snow followed by a killer frost in late August. The early bloomers did not like it one bit. But the next flush rose to the challenge and their flowering was unaffected. This one is Magnolia Athene, a particularly lovely variety with big ivory white flowers sporting a violet pink base. It is what is called a cup and saucer form. When open, the outer layer of petals drops a little to form the saucer, while the inner petals keep a tight cup form. Botanically, magnolias don’t actually have much in the way of petals, they have tepals which look like petals but that tends to confuse all but the most enthusiastic gardener.

Bred in the early 1960s, Athene is one of a small series from the late Felix Jury in his quest for new plants which would carry the good aspects of the classic campbellii magnolias but flower on young plants and not grow as large. It should flower within a year of planting out. The parents are magnolias lennei alba (which is a very tidy, smaller tree with pure cream flowers) and Mark Jury (which is a large growing tree with very large, heavy textured flowers in lilac tones). Athene was a significant advance on the parents and puts on a magnificent display with its bi-coloured blooms. It will eventually reach about 5 metres with an upright habit and the flowers are pleasantly scented.

Tikorangi Notes: Friday 16 September, 2011

Magnolia Athene in our park this week

Magnolia Athene in our park this week


Latest posts:

1) The yellow Camellia chrysantha – looking rather more spectacular in the photo than on the bush. Plant Collector.
2) Trees for small gardens – Abbie’s column.
3) In praise of Bok Choy (aka Pak Choi) (this weeks GIY).
4) Tikorangi Diary with effusive praise for Magnolia Iolanthe and a plaintive complaint about people who can not read the important notes on our website explaining repeatedly that we do not mailorder or courier plants.

Magnolia Iolanthe in all her magnificence this week

Magnolia Iolanthe in all her magnificence this week

Tikorangi Notes: Friday 16 September, 2011

While much of the country is in the grip of rugby world cup fever (save us should the All Blacks fail to deliver the silverware. Elections have been lost on less and the country may plunge into deep depression), it is magnolia time here. I read a colleague advocating planting magnolias at the bottom of a slope so you can look down on them but I disagree. I love looking up through them from below and I prefer my magnolias displayed against a blue sky rather than framed by other greenery. With some of our trees around 60 years old now, they have considerable stature. In fact the original plant of Iolanthe has a diameter of about 10 metres – that is a lot of Iolanthe on show. The other mid season magnolias – Athene, Lotus, Milky Way, Atlas and the like- are all opening and the coming week will be one of the highlights of our gardening year.