Nursery wins elite magnolia prize

2003 Todd Gresham Award goes to New Zealand plant breeder

New Zealand-based plant breeder Mark Jury has been awarded one of the gardening world’s most coveted international prizes for his contribution to the genus of Magnolia. The 2003 Todd Gresham Award recognises years of growing by Jury and his late father Felix. The award, administered by the US-based International Magnolia Society, has been presented to only 24 people worldwide. Although assessed annually, it is not awarded unless the selection panel believes there is an appropriate recipient. A delegation of 33 members of the society from the UK, Europe, Canada and the US visited Jury and his wife Abbie at their nursery in Taranaki, New Zealand, and made the surprise presentation. Abbie Jury said: “After the delegates looked over the garden, they approached us with what I thought was a box of chocolates. Out came this award, we were stunned. It was totally unexpected.” Head of the delegation was RHS Wisley curator Jim Gardiner, who said: “These hybrids have put the name Jury on the international map. This is a prize that Taranaki and New Zealand alike can be very proud of.” Magnolias ‘Black Tulip’ and ‘Felix Jury’ impressed Gardiner. He said: “The magnolias here totally exceeded expectations. And many of the plants aren’t even named yet.” The Jurys say their magnolias benefit from high sunshine hours, good soil conditions and the area’s high rainfall. Australian plant marketer Anthony Tesselaar International is launching both ‘Black Tulip’ and ‘Felix Jury’ on to the international market. Tesselaar said: “The magnolias being bred by Mark Jury are the best in the world. There’s no stopping them now.”

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