Tag Archives: Magnolia Iolanthe

From New Plymouth, New Zealand to Plymouth, England

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I found this photo in our archives. On the back it reads: “Planting of Magnolia Iolanthe on Monday 25/7/88 in New George Street, Plymouth, England by New Plymouth, NZ Soroptimist Carolyn Lean and Plymouth and District Soroptimist President – Ida Miles.”

Iolanthe is of course the first flagship Jury magnolia. Are there any readers in Plymouth UK who know if it is still growing? I am pretty sure that is the New Zealand Soroptimist doing the digging. I recall meeting her once.

The original Magnolia Iolanthe in our garden here last spring

The original Magnolia Iolanthe in our garden here last spring

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Petal carpets, the garden in September

Petal carpets are a second delight

Petal carpets are a second delight

We do good spring gardens in New Zealand. This is just as well in Taranaki, because spring stretches out well past the prescribed three months – from August to early December, I would suggest. The combination of a lack of extremes in temperature, high rainfall and high sunshine hours keeps us in extended flowering mode.

Petal carpets feature large for us. Spring storms may batter plants in bloom but with large trees, the strewn petals offer a second delight, albeit shorter-lived. These used to be more problematic before we discovered a bane of suburban life that is a boon for large gardens – the leaf blower. Once the petals start to discolour and decay, we blow them onto the garden beds where they can quickly rot away to nothing. There is nowhere near the nutritional compost value in fallen petals that there is in leaves, but they are part of the cycle of nature.

Magnolia Iolanthe

Magnolia Iolanthe

The magnolia season continues. The original specimen of Iolanthe is beside our driveway and now measures around 10 metres tall and 7 metres across. In the glory of full bloom, it takes our breath away year after year. If you can give trees the room to grow to maturity, future generations may thank you.

The big-leafed rhododendrons in our park are already passing over. They are showy but flower very early in the season and are vulnerable to frost. They are also difficult to propagate and take up a lot of space so you rarely find them offered for sale. If you are determined, raising them from seed is the best option for the patient gardener. Other rhododendrons are opening however and the season extends right through to Christmas.

Rhododendron 'Eyestopper'

Rhododendron ‘Eyestopper’

I am madly digging, dividing and reorganising summer perennials. We returned from our trip to see English summer gardens inspired and energised. We were very focussed this time, wanting to see the contemporary gardens rather than the classics like Hidcote, Sissinghurst and Great Dixter. Gardening, after all, moves on and the Arts and Crafts garden style derives from the first decades of last century.

We haven’t heard much in this country about the New Perennials Movement, naturalistic gardening, the Sheffield School and prairie gardening but it has been as big a revolution in garden design and planting as the garden rooms of Arts and Crafts were in their day, or the cottage garden genre that followed. It is a whole lot more than just adding in grasses to perennial plantings, as some sniffily deride.

We were lucky to get into a few private gardens that are not open to the public and we looked at the work of some of the major designer-practioners – Piet Oudolf, Christopher Bradley Hole, Tom Stuart Smith and the late Henk Gerritsen, as well as lesser-known gardeners.

Our conditions are different so it will never work taking the lessons from another country and imposing them here. We need to use different plants in many cases (pampas grass is on our banned list and the lovely Stipa tenuissima is threatening to become a noxious weed according to the Weedbuster’s website). Our management also requires different strategies and some of the gardening practices we saw just won’t work here.

But the underpinning philosophy is relevant and many of the ideas are challenging our preconceived notions. We are serious about the move to more environmentally friendly gardening even though it will push the boundaries of what most New Zealand gardeners regard as acceptable in terms of tolerance for weeds. Our interests also lie in extending our spring flowering well through summer and into autumn and we can’t achieve this without managing perennials much better. No matter. We are inspired. And as gardeners, we take the longer term view.

Wildside in North Devon was the one that excited us most

Wildside in North Devon was the one that excited us most

Of all the gardens we looked at in detail – and there were over 20 of them – the one that really made us buzz with excitement was Wildside in North Devon. This is the garden created by Keith and Ros Wiley. You will have to make do with Googling it or buying Keith’s book because they have now closed to the public. This garden was an inspiration in every way. It brought together vision, energy, determination, sheer hard work and advanced plantsmanship which left us in awe.

First published in the New Zeakland Gardener and reproduced here with their permission.

Plant Collector: Magnolia Iolanthe

The inimitable Magnolia Iolanthe

The inimitable Magnolia Iolanthe

I cannot let the season pass without celebrating magnolias. At this time of the year we live and breathe these flowering trees and the settled weather has meant a particularly good season this year. Not all of them get as large as this glorious specimen of ‘Iolanthe’. In this country, it is a lucky tree that is permitted to survive into its sixth decade without being unceremoniously severed from its roots.

Iolanthe was the product of Felix Jury’s first attempts to hybridise magnolias. He was looking for larger blooms with good colour. Certainly the bloom is still exceptional with its large cup and saucer form. The colour has been criticised for its lavender hue, but I can tell you that it remains spectacular. Because it sets flower buds down the stem, it has one of the longest season of any of our many magnolias here. Some only set buds on the tips where they all come out at once. As soon as they pass over – or if they are hit by strong wind, heavy rain or frost – that is it for the year as far as floral display goes. Not so with Iolanthe. Twice we have seen the display turned to mush by extraordinary frost events but a few days later, a fresh flush of blooms has opened and the display is back. From first to last spring bloom, we get about two months of flowering, of which maybe three weeks is full glory. It repeat flowers in summer, though as the tree is then in full leaf, it is nowhere near as showy or prolific – more a bonus than a mainstay.

Iolanthe and Serene are the only plants for which Felix ever received external payment. We recall this because it was in our early married days when we were impoverished students. He gave the fee of a couple of hundred dollars to Mark. It was not the sort of event one ever forgets.
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First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

The Jury Magnolias from New Zealand

First published in the spring journal of the American Magnolia Society, Issue 93.

Magnolia ‘Iolanthe’ is one of our star performers here and has achieved considerable stature after 50 years. It has necessitated relocating the vegetable garden

Magnolia ‘Iolanthe’ is one of our star performers here and has achieved considerable stature after 50 years. It has necessitated relocating the vegetable garden

The Jury magnolia reputation has been built on a small number of named varieties. Felix Jury only ever named eight of his own breeding – Magnolias ‘Apollo’, Athene’, Atlas’, ‘Iolanthe’, Lotus’, Milky Way’, ‘Serene’ and Vulcan™ . We don’t include the variety M. ‘Mark Jury’ in that list because it arrived here as a seedling of Lanarth purchased from Hilliers and all Felix did was to grow it and, in due course, name it. There is no record of how many seedlings he raised. Mark’s comment is that it wasn’t a huge number and he guesses somewhere between 50 and 100 in total. Mark curbed his father’s suggestion of naming a few more because they were too close to ones already selected, although we have a few fine sister seedlings from those breeding lines in the garden here.

In his turn, Mark has raised many more controlled crosses. He has never kept track of the number, but a rough guess brings him around the 1000 total of deciduous magnolias grown to flowering size so far. Of those he has named a grand total of four. He is discerning. All were chosen because they represented a breakthrough in some aspect: an ability to produce flowers on young plants, not grow so rapidly as to indicate that they will become forest giants, propagate relatively easily and flower reliably every year while setting buds down the stems to prolong the season.

Black Tulip - good form, solid, dark colour and heavy petals

Black Tulip – good form, solid, dark colour and heavy petals

Magnolia Black Tulip® was selected because it sets flowers freely on young plants and achieves a depth of solid dark color with heavy textured petals in an attractive goblet form which holds its shape. M. ‘Burgundy Star’ offered a totally different habit of growth, strongly fastigiate, and the large star-shaped blooms over a prolonged period are a purer red at their best.Being three parts M. liliiflora ‘Nigra’, he hoped it would also prove hardier and maybe hold its color in colder climates. Felix® is our personal favorite so far. It is big, up to 30cm (12 in) across. It is very showy. With us, it can appear a rich red, but even when the color gets bleached out in colder climates, it retains a good depth of deep rosy pink. It was everything that Felix Jury himself was trying to breed – a big, rich-colored M. ‘Iolanthe’ – and he lived long enough to see it bloom. This is a cultivar that we think is just going to get more spectacular with age and size.

Magnolia Honey Tulip™ is a soft golden version of M. Black Tulip® scheduled for release in 2013. The rounded flower form and heavy textured petals appear to be an advance in the yellow magnolias. (photo by Sally Tagg)

Magnolia Honey Tulip™ is a soft golden version of M. Black Tulip® scheduled for release in 2013. The rounded flower form and heavy textured petals appear to be an advance in the yellow magnolias. (photo by Sally Tagg)

This year will see the first release of Mark’s newest cultivar called Honey Tulip™. It is a golden honey version of Black Tulip® and represents a breakthrough in flower form and petal substance in the yellows. It retains its color through the flowering season where the comparators (Magnolias ‘Yellow Fever’, Sundance’ and ‘Hot Flash’) all become increasingly pale. Magnolia Honey Tulip™ is a soft golden version of M. Black Tulip® scheduled for release in 2013. The rounded flower form and heavy textured petals appear to be an advance in the yellow magnolias.

For our climate, it is particularly significant that it flowers on bare wood, whereas most of the yellow hybrids flower at the same time as they come into leaf. It is also less vigorous, which is to its credit, given that the yellows tend to compete with timber trees here in their rate of growth.

What takes time to sort out is how well these magnolias will perform overseas in different climates. M. Vulcan™ has been patchy at best internationally and washes out to a muddy purple in cold climates. M. ‘Iolanthe’, too, has not matched up in many overseas locations. Yet, here in New Zealand it is a flagship magnolia. The original plant is now somewhere over 50 years old and planted in the most prominent spot in our garden. Year in and year out it takes our breath away with its sheer magnificence. There is a lot of trial and error involved in how these plants perform overseas and we have been particularly delighted to see that M. Felix® seems to be measuring up across a range of climates.

Felix®, bred by Mark, fulfilled the magnolia breeding ambitions of his father, Felix Jury. It is heartening to hear reports of how well it is performing internationally.

Felix®, bred by Mark, fulfilled the magnolia breeding ambitions of his father, Felix Jury. It is heartening to hear reports of how well it is performing internationally.

Mark continues with breeding deciduous magnolias. The quest here is for a yellow M. ‘Iolanthe’ (in other words, a very large cup-and-saucer bloom in yellow). He is after pure reds which lose the magenta hue common to the first generations of new hybrids and he is getting very close to it. There is certainly room for an improved M. Vulcan™ which would bloom with better color in other climates and fade out with more grace as its flowering season draws to a close. There is a way to go yet in a pure purple.

The process here is to grow seed to a large enough size for planting out, which usually takes about 18 months. They are then planted wherever there is space. Our shelter belts (windbreaks) are rows of trial plants, including magnolias. Some are in groves, some edging a stand of native forest, some lining our road verges and he has now resorted to rows in the open ground. From time to time, Mark heads out with the chainsaw. If the seedlings haven’t flowered by five years old, they get the chop. If it becomes clear that a cross is of no particular merit, the batch will be felled. If one is looking very promising, others will be cleared to give it space. Over time, the first groves have been thinned down from about 120 to the best 20, which will remain in situ. Because, of course, if you are only naming about four out of a thousand, there are a rather large number of also-rans which are too good to cut out, but not good enough or sufficiently different
in the eyes of the breeder to release.

The Michelias

Venturing into the michelia branch of the magnolia family has been much more recent. The first crosses only go back about 17 years, but the turnaround is much faster so the total number raised is already larger than the deciduous magnolias. One has been widely released and is on the market as Fairy Magnolia® Blush. The next two are scheduled to be released this year – Fairy Magnolia® White and Fairy Magnolia® Cream.

The decision to brand these with the trademarked name of Fairy Magnolia® was made by our agent, Anthony Tesslaar Plants. With the reclassification by taxonomists of Michelias to Magnolias, it seems important to highlight the difference between these and the larger, evergreen grandiflora types.

Michelias flower in two to three years from seed so it is possible to use them for further hybridising and to see directions quickly. However, there is an additional hurdle. Deciduous magnolias are usually budded and it is only the occasional one which falls at the propagation hurdle. Michelias are much more of a mass market proposition and have to propagate easily from cutting and in tissue culture. We have a far higher fall-out rate when it comes to trialing for ease of propagation. We were disappointed when a green-yellow full sister to Fairy Magnolia® Blush, which had very distinctive large green buds encased in brown velvet, fell at the last hurdle. It’s a good plant. It just doesn’t propagate reliably. With hindsight, it is a little sparse in foliage, too, so maybe it is to the good that it didn’t make it to international release.

While Mark is getting some interesting colors in the michelia hybrids, none has yet passed the propagation trials.

While Mark is getting some interesting colors in the michelia hybrids, none has yet passed the propagation trials.

Similarly, the colored varieties appear to be problematic when it comes to propagation. The breeding program has yielded some good pure yellows which are easily on a par, color-wise, with the yellow deciduous magnolias. None so far have propagated reliably. Even more disappointing have been the purples. Hopes are raised when a plentiful number of flower buds open to good-sized, distinctive purple flowers, but none of these seedlings has so far passed the propagation test with high enough percentages. If they are reluctant to strike from cutting, it appears that they are equally problematic in micropropagation.

Fragrance has been another issue. Even when using two strongly fragrant parents, a large proportion of the offspring are bereft of any scent at all. We have many visually splendid plants, some representing real breakthroughs in form or flower, but doubt the willingness of the buying public to embrace a michelia with no scent. Mark has been backcrossing some of these to scented species to see if he can get the fragrance back.

Others are rejected because they are too fertile, setting far too much seed, which will lead to a scraggly plant over time, and a scraggly plant with weed potential in some conditions. Some crosses have simply been too vigorous in growth to contemplate them as garden plants of merit no matter how lovely the blooms.

New Zealand’s borders are now well and truly closed to any imports of new species of any genera so Mark has not had access to recent introductions. In fact, he is working on a limited range – mostly M. doltsopa, M. figo, M. laevifolia and M. maudiae. M. alba and M. champaca have proven to be blind alleys so far and the obscure and as yet unidentified wild-collected michelia species brought back from Vietnam by the late Os Blumhardt has little merit or breeding potential. Mark observes that he has not seen other new species that he covets or that he thinks will add much of significance to the hybrids, so the closed borders have not been the problem that he initially feared. He has ruled out using allied plants such as Mangletias because they lack the floriferous characteristic that is a bottom line for any hybrid. By this stage he is down to about the sixth generation of crosses and back crosses using the sought-after characteristics of favored species and hybrids, so the genetic makeup of individual hybrids has become increasingly complex.

Fairy Magnolia® Blush clips very successfully. These plants are kept to this size with trimming in late spring and a light follow-up in late summer.

Fairy Magnolia® Blush clips very successfully. These plants are kept to this size with trimming in late spring and a light follow-up in late summer.

Fairy Magnolia® Blush brought consistent pink coloring into the range along with bushy growth and floriferous characteristics over a long season. The natural bushiness and the ability to take hard trimming are both important characteristics. The early M. doltsopa x foggii crosses from Os Blumhardt (particularly ‘Mixed Up Miss’ and ‘Bubbles’) make splendid juvenile nursery plants, but as they mature, they become leggy and open and most people would not look twice at them. We have had many seedlings the same and discard any which make only tip growths. Blush has a light and pleasant scent and, despite having doltsopa and figo in its parentage, it has proven much hardier in the US than we dared to hope and appears to be coping as low as zone 6 with winter protection and comfortably dealing with zone 7b conditions through the years of pre-release trials in the USA. It is hard to breed the perfect plant – the foliage can be a little more olive green than we would like and it would be good to get a larger, pinker bloom, but it is maturing well here.

Fairy Magnolia® Cream has very fragrant, large cream flowers over a long season and will be released internationally in 2013. (photo by Sally Tagg)

Fairy Magnolia® Cream has very fragrant, large cream flowers over a long season and will be released internationally in 2013. (photo by Sally Tagg)

Fairy Magnolia® Cream, to be released this year, is similar to Blush in breeding and performance, but with desirable brighter green foliage and a very strong fragrance. Its peak flowering season extends into months and the blooms are a little larger than Blush, measuring at least 10cm across. Fairy Magnolia® White is from a different breeding strain. It has been selected from a very consistent run of seedlings which we have long referred to as the Snow Flurry series. It is one of the earlier flowering michelias, opening in winter, and with a higher proportion of M. doltsopa it is not likely to be as hardy in cold climates as Blush and, we hope, Cream. Where climate and space allow, we think it should prove to be a big improvement on existing doltsopa types. It has smaller leaves and wonderful
velvet brown buds opening to the purest of white starry flowers with excellent fragrance. It is much bushier in habit and has never shown the tendency to defoliate after flowering which can be problematic with some doltsopa types (and indeed with many M. laevifolias here). While it forms a plant of some stature (maybe 5m x by 4m, or 16 ft x 13 ft, if not trimmed), it is not going to become a giant like the M. doltsopa, which now takes up a greater area than an urban house plot in our park.

Fairy Magnolia® White is from a different breeding line and we see it as a garden friendly M. doltopa type with very beautiful, perfumed flowers. (photo by Sally Tagg

Fairy Magnolia® White is from a different breeding line and we see it as a garden friendly M. doltopa type with very beautiful, perfumed flowers. (photo by Sally Tagg

In recent years, we have wound up the wholesale and retail nursery here in order to concentrate on the garden and plant breeding. At the rate he is going, Mark may eventually end up naming and releasing a few more cultivars than his father, but the selections will have been made from trials involving a much greater number of cultivars.

Magnolia Burgundy Star - as yet unproven overseas but we are hopeful it may prove hardy and keep good flower colour

Magnolia Burgundy Star – as yet unproven overseas but we are hopeful it may prove hardy and keep good flower colour

Tikorangi Notes: Friday 7 September, 2012

Just another unnamed seedling, as we say here

Just another unnamed seedling, as we say here

Latest posts:
1) Repeating plants throughout the garden – does this unify the garden? Maybe not….
2) Magnolia Burgundy Star – a useful fastigiate form and great red flowers.
3) Garden lore – a quote on colour from Edward Augustus Bowles, possibly even more relevant now than in 1914 when he wrote it. And this week’s handy hint on boiling water instead of weedkiller.

The mid season magnolias are simply magnificent. While there is an abundance of other seasonal colour in the garden – flowering cherries, spring bulbs left, right and centre, camellias, Kurume azaleas, hellebores, early rhododendrons, even humble little polys and prims – the magnolias hold centre stage. The early varieties have all been, done and gone now. The mids are at their peak, the late varieties are opening. If you have been planning a visit to see the magnolias, you might be wise not to leave it much longer past this weekend.

More Iolanthe

More Iolanthe

Tikorangi Diary Friday August 31, 2012

There is rather a lot of Iolanthe looking glorious

There is rather a lot of Iolanthe looking glorious

It is magnolia time here. All the mid season varieties are opening now, including the original Iolanthe beside our driveway. As this tree now measures over 15 metres across, there is a whole lot of Iolanthe on display. If you are planning a garden visit to see the magnolias, do not delay. Our garden is open every day. If we are not around, there is an honesty box.

LATEST POSTS
1) Plant Collector this week is Corylopsis pauciflora – a dainty primrose yellow witch hazel which is but a fleeting seasonal wonder here, though delightful while it lasts.
2) Move over Martha Stewart. The new generation has come of age in the world of gardening and lifestyle. Lynda Hallinan’s book on a year of country living is a cracker.
3) Garden lore this week – a quote from Anne Raven on the frustrating nature of a day’s gardening and some advice on using wood ash as fertiliser.
4) More feeding tui, this time in Prunus Te Mara. Another brief YouTube clip.

A NOTE TO SUBSCRIBERS
For historic reasons, I have two websites, closely linked. We are moving to integrate them into one site (www.jury.co.nz) which is where new posts now go. At this stage I am linking through from this site but in due course http://www.abbiejury.co.nz will disappear. What I can’t do is to transfer subscriptions over from one site to the other. If you wish to continue receiving new posts via email, you will need to subscribe at the jury site. Please do. Alternatively, if you are a Facebook user, if you go to www.facebook.com/thejurygarden and “like” the page (as Facebook lingo goes), you will get the links posted to your Facebook page on Fridays.

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.