New Zealand plant breeder Mark Jury, aka ‘Mr Magnolia’, receives RHS Veitch Memorial Medal

Mark Jury.

In March, representatives of the UK’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) presented NZ ornamental plant breeder Mark Jury with a Veitch Memorial Medal. This prestigious accolade, named after businessman and famed horticulturist and former RHS Council Member James Veitch Jr. (1815-1869), is awarded annually to persons of any nationality who have made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the science and practice of horticulture.

Mark Jury is from Taranaki in New Zealand and has made a name in the breeding of Rhododendrons, Camellias, Michelias and Daphnes.

One of his latest breeding breakthroughs is Daphne’ Perfume Princess’. This low-growing evergreen stands 1.2 metres tall and is one metre in width. The shrub features a rounded growth habit and produces masses of delicately pale pink or – since 2021- white blooms in early spring or winter, now that climate change seems to happen everywhere.

The natural attraction of this plant is the beautiful citrus-like fragrance produced by tiny clusters of tubular flowers on the branch tips.

Mark Jury is also one of the men behind Fairy Magnolias, a new generation of compact and evergreen Magnolias. They make beautiful specimen shrubs or quick-growing and flowering hedges producing masses of fragrant pink, white or cream flowers.

Jury and plant breeder’s agent Anthony Tesselaar from Australia has worked together since 1999. Both are visionary hortipreneurs, thinking far ahead before developing new ornamental plant varieties better adapted to growing conditions, societal changes and trade/consumer preferences. Their partnership began in 1999 and has continued to blossom since, with Jury as one of Tesselaar’s important breeder partners.

The Jury is also the 2021 RHS Jim Gardiner Magnolia Cup recipient.

Thirteen New Zealanders have been awarded the Veitch Medal since its inception in 1870, in[1]cluding Mark’s father Felix in 1992. This year’s Veitch Memorial Award winners include Susan Campbell, Graham Duncan, Mark Jury, Sidney Linnegar, Bleddyn and Sue Wynn-Jones.

According to the RHS, the Veitch Memorial Medal is held for life, and there is no limit to the number of medals that may be awarded.

Mark Jury is also a recipient of the 2021 RHS Jim Gardiner Magnolia Cup. This award is made annually to a person who has significantly promoted or increased knowledge of magnolias.

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