|Royal New Zealand Institute of Horticulture, Inc.
Associate of Honour
Denis Hughes FRNZIH
Denis Hughes is a much respected horticulturist, plantsman and plant breeder, well known and widely recognised in New Zealand and abroad. He completed his Diploma in Horticulture from Lincoln College in 1963 and then went into business with his late wife, Margaret, as owner and manager of Blue Mountain Nurseries in Tapanui. He and Margaret were very much a partnership in horticulture and they developed the nursery significantly from those years and today it produces plants for national distribution to other nurseries, garden centres, landscapers and councils. The nursery extends over 12 hectares and produces hundreds of thousands of plants each year.
The combined enthusiasm, energy and expertise of Denis and Margaret Hughes meant that Blue Mountain became known far and wide for its rare and unusual plants. Denis Hughes, like his father, became a great plant collector and today the nursery has stock plants of more than 7,000 different plant cultivars. Rhododendrons are a particular passion: he produced the first plants of Rhododendron ‘Crest’ in New Zealand and his wife bred Rhododendron ‘City of Dunedin’ (the feature plant for the 150th anniversary of Dunedin City). Also of special note are the range of deciduous azaleas known as “The Blue Mountain Azaleas” and Agapanthus ‘Blue Mountain’. These are just a few examples of the additions to their plant list that are a result of his plant breeding programmes, taking many years of patient breeding, trial and selection.
He has been an active member international specialist societies such as the International Plant Propagators Society, the Rhododendron Society, the International Dendrology Society, the American Conifer Society and the Alpine Garden Society, as well as many others. He has written papers for The International Plant Propagators Society as well as many articles on plants. He is a sought-after speaker and has presented talks and given demonstrations for many years to a wide range of groups and organisations in the world of plants and gardens. He has actively supported and made contributions to improving training in our industry, advocating apprenticeship and other systems for letting young people get the skills and experience they require. His work for horticulture was acknowledged by his being elected a Fellow of the Institute in 1990.
Denis Hughes has travelled overseas, collecting plants in the wild, visiting gardens, making connections with growers and being an unpaid ambassador for horticulture in New Zealand for many years. His humility, consideration and respect for others always guarantees that time spent with him is both a pleasure and an education. His time is always given generously and his passion for all things to do with plants cannot fail to inspire.
Denis Hughes has rendered distinguished service to horticulture in New Zealand. He is a most worthy candidate for election as an Associate of Honour of the Institute and in honouring him we also take the opportunity of recognizing the many contributions of several generations of his family to horticulture in this country.
The contribution of information by his son Chris Hughes, General Manager of Blue Mountain Nurseries, is appreciated and acknowledged.
Citation prepared by Mick Reece
Plants bred or introduced by Denis Hughes include:
Agapanthus ‘Blue Mountain’
Azalea ‘Baby Girl’
Azalea ‘Charlotte de Rothschild’
Azalea ‘Midas Touch’
Azalea ‘Nicholas de Rothschild’
Azalea ‘Pink Chiffon’
Betula ‘Black Magic’
Chaenomeles ‘Mrs Murphy’s Red’
Chamaecyparis lawsoniana ‘Blue Mountain’
Clematis paniculata ‘Bridal Veil’
Clematis cartmanii ‘Sweet Hart’
Coprosma ‘Cattle Flat’
Coprosma ‘Clearwater Gold’
Coprosma ‘Little Walter’
Cornus ‘Silver Lining’
Cupressus glabra ‘Lemon Spire’
Daphne bholua ‘Pink Ice’
Galanthus elwesii ‘Emerald’
Juniperus recurva ‘Audrey’
Juniperus recurva ‘Ron’
Leucothoe fontanesiana “Compact Form”
Leucothoe fontanesiana “1994”
Lavender angustifolia ‘Blue Mountain’
Lavender angustifolia ‘White Mountain’
Malus ‘Blue Mountain’
Metrosiderus umbellata ‘Kaka’
Metrosiderus umbellata ‘Christmas Dream’
Nothofagus fusca ‘Rainbow’
Olearia arborescens (variegated, not yet named)
Parahebe ‘Mt Dalgety’
Parahebe ‘Mt Herbert’
Pleione Alishan ‘Tui’
Pleione formosana ‘Silver Lining’
Pseudowintera colorata ‘Red Leopard’
Rhododendron ‘City of Dunedin’
Rhododendron ‘Dear One’
Rhododendron ‘Happy Anniversary’
Sorbus ‘Apricot Sunset’
Sorbus ‘Rose Sunset’
Sorbus ‘Winter Sunset’