NZ Magnolia breeder Vance Hooper receives the RHS Reginald Cory Memorial Cup

Magnolia breeder Vance Hooper was granted the RHS Reginal Cory Memorial Cup on 26 March for his contribution to plant breeding.

Peter van Rijssen, co-owner of the royalty management agency and representative of Hooper’s varieties Plantipp, accepted the award on his behalf.

Vance Hooper’s dedication to breeding exceptional Magnolia varieties and his ability to create cultivars that combine beauty, resilience, and unique characteristics have earned him a well-deserved place among the industry’s most respected breeders.

The Reginald Cory Memorial Cup serves as a testament to his talent and commitment. His creations will continue to enhance gardens and bring joy to plant enthusiasts for years to come.

Vance Hooper’s passion for breeding Magnolias and the support of Plantipp and Kiwiflora has led to the introduction of several extraordinary varieties that have captivated the gardening world.

Among these notable cultivars are Magnolia ‘Genie’PBR, Magnolia Watermelon (‘MGWAT2011b’PBR), Magnolia Emperor (‘MGEMP2012’PBR), Magnolia Pink Pyramid (‘MGPIN2010’PBR), and Magnolia ‘Cameo’ PBR. Each of these distinctive Magnolia varieties exhibits unique characteristics that make them stand out in the current range of available options.

Arguably, Hooper’s most iconic Magnolia is ‘Genie’, the result of 15 years of breeding in a line of Magnolia soulangeana and Magnolia liliiflora. ‘Genie is a compact tree that produces masses of tulip-shaped flowers. This amazing garden plant boasts healthy foliage and flowers freely over a three-month season.

Magnolia ‘Watermelon’ features large, bright pink, semi-double flowers with 15-20 cm diameter. Magnolia Emperor stands out with its large and showy flowers.

For gardeners seeking a Magnolia with a more compact form and a profusion of blooms, repeat-flowering Magnolia Pink Pyramid is a perfect choice. Its narrow, pyramidal shape makes it an excellent option for smaller gardens or as an accent tree in larger landscapes. Similarly, the repeat-flowering Magnolia Cameo embodies elegance with its delicate, pale-pink flowers. This variety’s compact size and rounded growth habit make it an excellent choice for gardens with limited space.

Vance and his wife Kathryn run their Magnolia Grove nursery in Waitara, New Zealand.

The RHS Reginald Cory Memorial Cup is a prestigious accolade named after the horticultural writer, researcher and liveryman of the Ancient Guild of Gardeners, Reginald Cory (1871-1934). Cory became a vice-president of the UK’s Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and was a major benefactor of the Society, and other botanical resources.

The Cup serves to encourage the production of new hybrids of garden origin. It may be awarded to a raiser whose hybridisation programme has resulted in the recent introduction and availability of new hybrids of merit. This award is not limited by plant hardiness or to the breeding of a particular genus or species, though fruit and vegetables are excluded. The Cup is held for one year and awarded annually.

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