Tag Archives: Magnolia Mark Jury

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 Sure, some have been superseded over time but these were ground breaking hybrids in the 1960s and created a special place for New Zealand in the world of magnolias.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

Magnolia Diary number 8, 29 August 2009

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Mark Jury in full flower

Mark Jury in full flower

Back in the 1950s when Felix Jury was establishing the garden here, one of the plants he coveted was Magnolia Lanarth. He ordered it from Hilliers in the UK. History is a little vague as to what number and form the plant material took (scions or plants) but it included a seedling which, when it flowered after a number of years, was clearly not the solid purple flower of the chosen cultivar. No, instead it was very large and pale lavender pink and white. Enquiries from Hilliers established that it was most likely a cross between Lanarth and sargentiana robusta. Felix did manage to establish true Lanarth (Magnolia diary entries 1 and 4 have photos of the splendid specimen after fifty years), but the chance seedling proved to be the jump start for a breeding programme. Felix subsequently named it Mark Jury, for his youngest son and it has been distributed in the trade both in New Zealand and overseas. We have never promoted it widely ourselves. Although it makes a splendid large tree for a park, we think the next generation are superior garden plants.



From Magnolia Mark Jury came Iolanthe (ref Diary 7), Milky Way, Lotus, Athene and Atlas (all involving forms of lennei) which are all flowering now. Apollo too is flowering (this one does not have Mark in its lineage, being thought instead to be a liliiflora nigra hybrid crossed with Lanarth). Picking favourites is all about taste. Iolanthe has an exceptionally long flowering season and a large flower with good colour here (though we were disappointed at how it looked in Switzerland at Eisenhuts and it does not appear to be the stand out performer in the UK and Europe that it is here). Lotus has a perfect form in pure cream but can take 5 or 6 years to settle into good flowering. Athene has blooms which in our eyes are simply beautiful. Atlas had the largest flowers imaginable until rivaled by Felix. Apollo is our best purple so far. Milky Way is just an all round top performer. What more can we say? Felix’s legacy is still remarkable.

Magnolia Apollo, Felix's best purple

Magnolia Apollo, Felix's best purple