Deutzia purpurascens ‘Alpine Magician’ is a tall, slender, multi-branched shrub that flowers in May, is completely hardy and will grow in most conditions. When Dr Charles Nelson was Taxonomist in the National Botanic Gardens in the l990s, he noticed this plant; it had a label and a number but he was not content that the name was correct.  He researched the records and discovered that the seed had been sent to the Gardens in the early 1900s by the great alpinist, plant explorer and writer, Reginald Farrer, who had collected the seed in Burma. Dr Nelson identified the plant and went through the process of having it named as Deutzia purpurascens ‘Alpine Magician’. Lady Phylis Moore, a noted gardener and wife of Sir Frederick Moore, Director of the National Botanic Gardens from 1879 to 1922, was the first to refer to Farrer as “The Alpine Magician”.

‘Alpine Magician’ is a deciduous plant with arching branches growing to about 2m with flowers of pure white with a plum-coloured centre. While the plant is a joy when in flower, for the rest of the year it is a trifle dull. It roots relatively easily from semi-ripe cuttings and, because of its lack of availability, I always try to have a few rooted cuttings on hand to pass on to fellow enthusiasts or to bring to the annual plant sale.

(As appeared in Newsletter 149, July 2020. Text courtesy of Carmel Duignan and photos by Paddy Tobin)