Tag Archives: Magnolia Serene

Spring pinks

Pink froth of Prunus Awanui  currently at its peak

I am a big fan of pink and not just in flowers, but my theme this week came because of two pink plants in bloom.

The balls of viburnum are at the front of the vase

The first is one of the Virburnum × burkwoodii cultivars. I am not sure which one it is but we have it planted beside the drive where it is largely anonymous for 51 weeks of the year. In the 52nd week, it opens its flowers to rounded balls of exquisite fragrance – strong enough to hang in the air several metres away. We would be lucky to get a full 7 days out of it but I am sure it does better in other climates – it probably wants it drier and colder. I picked a few balls to put in a vase with pink bluebells and late flowers of Mark’s Daphne ‘Perfume Princess’ (which still has flowers and has had since late March). It was lovely but the viburnum flowers promptly died overnight. They last longer than that on the bush, though not by much.

The view with our morning cuppa

Magnolia Serene

A prodigious carpet of petals beneath

The second pink to give me daily delight is Magnolia ‘Serene’ – bred by Felix and the marker of the end of the deciduous magnolia season for us. As we sit having our morning cup of tea, it is framed in the corner window of our bedroom. Not this morning, though. With daylight saving, it was a bit dark at 7am to see it so that may herald the end of that particular seasonal pleasure, too.

Rhododendron Coconut Ice

I am not the world’s biggest fan of the ball truss type of rhododendron but ‘Coconut Ice’ was looking particularly pretty earlier this week. Sadly, it is browning off already. Flowering is an ephemeral pleasure. Mark observes that the delight of rhododendrons lies in watching the buds for a long period of time before finally opening over a period of a couple of weeks. There is then a week, maybe 10 days, of full glory – sometimes cut shorter by an ill-timed storm – and then it is time to dead head it. In practice, we don’t dead head all our rhododendrons – just those that set large amounts of seed which can weaken the plant over time.

My rhododendron preference is for those with looser trusses that are sometimes so abundant that they can cover the plant.

Rhododendron Anne Teese

It took a couple of goes for Mark to remember the name of this beauty – Rhododendron Anne Teese. It is an Australian-bred hybrid coming from the Teese family (in this case the father, Arnold) who are well known through their nursery, Yamina Rare Plants in Monbulk, Victoria. Mark thinks it was named for the mother, presumably married to Arnold. Whatever, it is very lovely and I would be happy to have it named for me. It is a Maddenia hybrid (R.ciliicalyx x R.formosum) so scented and with a heavier petal, more weather resistant than ‘Charisma’, a similar R.ciliicalyx selection that used to be widely available here.

Rhododendron Floral Gift in a swathe of bluebells

With one notable exception – Magnolia ‘Felix Jury’ – Mark doesn’t name his cultivars for people. Or when he does, it is by oblique reference at best so an in-house tribute only. So this, his most fragrant rhododendron is ‘Floral Gift’, not ‘Abbie Jury’. It takes a while to get established but it is lovely and can be seen performing really well at Pukeiti Rhododendron Gardens. There are a whole lot of hybrids in this genre of scented, white flushed pink loose trusses; the best known is ‘Fragrantissimum’.  What sets ‘Floral Gift’ apart is the large flower and the very heavy petal texture giving it good weather resistance.

The reason I often reference weather resistance is because our spring flowering coincides with the spring equinox when we get the most unsettled weather, as evidenced this weekend – which, for us, means very heavy rain and wind which can wipe out fragile flowers in a matter of hours. And a few more pinks to finish off – this is one of the Dendrobium ‘Bardo Rose’ group of orchids which thrive in our open woodland areas. They flower for a long time and the scale is right for detailed woodland plantings – by which I mean, not as big and dominant as the cymbidiums.

Fairy Magnolia Blush

Fairy Magnolia Blush has a good, long flowering season, currently at its most charming stage of peak bloom. More lilac than pink, it is pleione orchid time. This is another group from the orchid family that thrives in pretty laissez-faire woodland conditions (in other words, benign neglect) but the flowering season is much shorter than the dendrobium ‘Bardo Roses’.

And the final bar of pink can be left to the evergreen azaleas. We have so many different ones that we get many months in flower but they are currently at their showiest.

Tikorangi notes: THAT yucca, wretched geissorhiza and the close of magnolia season.

Yucca whipplei finally flowered after maybe 20 years

Yucca whipplei finally flowered after maybe 20 years

The state of our Yucca whipplei is such an ongoing saga here it even has its own folder in my photo files. I wrote about its impending move back in early 2013 when we had cut the concrete paving in preparation for its move. But it was still in situ this time last year when, after a period of getting on for 20 years, it actually flowered. We were thrilled. As the flower spike edged past the first story of the house, it was a well-documented blooming.

IMG_5269But other needs were always more urgent so the moving of the yucca had not taken place. Nor had the windows to what is our TV room been cleaned for many years. But yesterday the day came, forced by the arrival of the glaziers to install retro-fitted double glazing in our wooden window sashes. It was not an easy task. Mark had thought he could probably chainsaw the top off but the fibrous nature of the spent foliage merely jammed the chainsaw. At this point it is in two pieces. The top will be replanted on the sunny bank in the north garden where it will likely recover. The base, with a new rosette well-formed already, will be dug out and also relocated. It will, I tell you it will. I like the garden view out of the windows which is now visible again and while cleaning windows is not my favourite activity, I do like to be able to do it when necessary.

IMG_5272As far as we know, this is Yucca whipplei, also known as Hesperoyucca whipplei, chaparral yucca, Our Lord’s candle, Spanish bayonet, Quixote yucca or foothill yucca. So Wikipedia tells me. Apparently the most common name is Our Lord’s candle. It being native to southern America from California through to Mexico, it clearly felt right at home in the bone dry conditions of the house border beneath the eves. In the meantime, Our Lord’s candle is no long alight at our place.

Pretty it may be in bloom, but I have spent countless hours trying to eradicate this plant, as Felix Jury did before me

Pretty it may be in bloom, but I have spent countless hours trying to eradicate this plant, as Felix Jury did before me

IMG_5004IMG_5005I have been forced to extreme remedial action in the rockery in the Battle of the Geissorhiza. Such a pretty weed and so dreadfully invasive. Each bulb is surrounded by many little baby bulbs that peel  off as soon as you look at them, ready to grow into the future. In the worst affected pockets of rockery, I am lifting everything and washing the roots to make sure no dreaded geissorhiza bulbs are lurking in there hiding. Then I dig out all the soil and replace it with clean soil. I was surprised that one pocket generates almost a full barrow of soil. The contaminated soil is being dumped in the deepest, darkest shade where I hope nothing will germinate and if it does, as a last resort it can be sprayed. This somewhat extreme and labour intensive treatment should, I hope,  get me closer to victory and the extermination of this pretty but hideously invasive bulb.

Shun Geissorhiza aspera. It belongs to the same group as highly invasive oxalis or allium-type of Pesky Weeds Masquerading as Pretty Plants. You have been warned.

Magnolia Serene

Magnolia Serene

Magnolia Serene is opening. This always heralds the end of the deciduous magnolia season for us as it is the last of the major magnolias here to bloom. Alas, a magnolia season that was progressing magnificently was dealt a near death blow two weeks ago when we had a huge wind which lasted more than 24 hours. We are used to wind here – it is the west coast of the Windy Isles after all (New Zealand being marooned in expanses of vast ocean all round means that we are a windy country) but this was more than an ordinary wind. Reminiscent, in fact, of the worst winds we can remember which came as Cyclone Bola 27 years ago. Fortunately the damage was minor though the debris was great. And the later flowering magnolias were something of a casualty. Because Serene was still in bud, it came through unscathed but the rest of the plants in bloom had their season cut short.

Tikorangi Notes, Friday 30 September, 2010

The ephemeral delight of the erythroniums in flower this week

The ephemeral delight of the erythroniums in flower this week

Latest Posts:
1) Magnolia Athene in all her glory in Plant Collector this week and gratitude for the mid season varieties.

2) New Zealand’s Native Trees by John Dawson and Rob Lucas. Thank you Craig Potton Publishing for not cutting corners, simplifying and dumbing down on the assumption that most of us have the mental capacity and experience of a child.

3) The differing agendas of gardeners, novices and designers (or why I am happy to accommodate plants with a scruffy period which includes deciduous plants and bulbs)

4) Grow it Yourself topic this week is Mark’s absolutely most favourite vegetable – sweetcorn.

5) Clearance special this week is Magnolia grandiflora Little Gem – a snip at $12 but very limited numbers.

6) In Praise of Plunging – a traditional technique from the UK which has its relevance here, in our conditions too.

The pink puffery of Magnolia Serene

The pink puffery of Magnolia Serene

I suggested to Mark that the start of a new year here was marked by the magnolias and early spring but he was pretty adamant that it is the snowdrops that herald the new beginning. The snowdrops have long finished, most of the narcissi are passing over and while the magnolia season continues, it is on the wane – the opening of Serene heralds the end of the season because it is the last of the major ones to flower for us. But temperatures are rising, the rhododendrons are opening and other new plants open every day. The trilliums are a triumph for us here. We are not natural trillium territory (bar two days this winter, we lack the winter chill they prefer) and have to choose planting situations carefully.

Showing off: the trilliums

Showing off: the trilliums

Each flower may be only three petals but when you get the deep red ones blooming with the light passing through, the effort is well worth it. The erythroniums are in full flower. If we don’t get torrential rain, we may get two or even three weeks of pleasure from these short-lived, dainty delights. The countdown to our annual garden festival at the end of October is on so the pressure is mounting.

In a rash moment, I agreed to present at the Waikato Home and Garden Show next Friday and Saturday. My main presentation is entitled “What Makes a Good Garden” (Friday at 12.30 and Saturday at 2.30) and I am also doing a presentation on our annual festival (styled the Powerco Taranaki Garden Spectacular this year but we will say no more about that, formerly known as the Taranaki Rhododendron and Garden Festival) at 6.30 on Friday and 4.30 on Saturday.

Plant Collector: Magnolia Serene

The very pink Magnolia Serene in full bloom

The very pink Magnolia Serene in full bloom

For us, Serene in full flower heralds the last chapter of the magnolia season each year. It is the latest and the last of the Jury magnolias to flower. It is also the pinkest. This is another of the series named by Felix Jury back in the early 1970s and the original tree now stands around six metres tall and is pyramidal in shape rather than spreading. In full flower, it is just a mass of large rosy pink bowl-shaped blooms.

001Being so late to flower, Serene is an excellent choice for people in colder areas or prone to late frosts. It also tends to miss the worst of the equinoctial winds. Cold conditions will make the plant adjust to blooming even later but Serene does get its flowers through before its foliage. We are picky here – we want deciduous magnolias to mass flower on bare stems before the new season’s leaves unfurl. When the leaves do come, they are a particularly good deep green and tidy in form so Serene stands out as a good summer foliage plant in a way in which few deciduous magnolias do. It will also set a flush of summer flowers which is bonus territory.
Serene was another of the series Felix bred using his wonder breeder parent, slightly embarrassingly named Magnolia Mark Jury. Its other parent is liliiflora.

Tikorangi Notes: August 21, 2010

Magnolia Serene by the pool, 2009

Magnolia Serene by the pool, 2009


The photograph much admired by radio host and landscaper Tony Murrell on Radio Live this morning was the end of season snap of Serene taken last year. We might equally describe this as a fine example of why you do not plant a magnolia beside your swimming pool although in our case, it is why building the swimming pool beside the original Magnolia Serene was not such a brilliant idea of ours. The tree was there first. (Magnolia Diary 13).
Iolanthe, after a storm

Iolanthe, after a storm

Magnolia Lanarth is the first to drop its petals

Magnolia Lanarth is the first to drop its petals

Personally, I prefer the post-storm image of the original Magnolia Iolanthe (Magnolia Diary 9), planted beside our driveway although Lanarth (Magnolia Diary 4) dropping its petals more tidily and conveniently in our park is also a favourite.
Lanarth petal drop

Lanarth petal drop


All this is a little premature this season as we are just entering the new magnolia flowering season – there should be a splendid display out by next weekend.

And as a footnote, the petal drop around our lollipop Fairy Magnolia Blush is a regular delight still in store for this season as the first buds are just opening. (Magnolia Diary 12).

Circles of Fairy Magnolia Blush petals

Circles of Fairy Magnolia Blush petals