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THE SPECIES: FUCHSIAS IN THE RAW - By......Nick Dobson

As a true fuchsia fanatic, I’m often amazed to hear fellow enthusiasts say that they dislike a particular cultivar. Like everyone else, I have my personal favourites, but I’ve never seen a fuchsia that is totally devoid of charm or beauty. I am even more amazed when I hear other growers state that they have absolutely no interest in species fuchsias, and yet I’ve heard such sentiments expressed by more than one good grower over the years. There are in excess of one hundred different fuchsia species known and listed by botanical experts and although not all of these are in cultivation, many of them are available to enthusiasts through specialist nurseries in this country. Why then this lack of interest in species fuchsias? After all, the hybrids and cultivars familiar to growers today all have their genetic origins in plants collected from the wild, plants that evolved naturally without human intervention. Perhaps some growers are put off with the thought that species are in some way “difficult” to grow, or that they lack the flower-power of the cultivated types, or lack the variety obtainable through the cultivars? Allow me to dispel some of these myths and recommend a few species gems that you might like to try for yourself.

Despite the rich diversity of species, the breeding of cultivated varieties (cultivars) has, for the majority of nearly two hundred years of fuchsia breeding, centred on only a handful of species. Most of today’s commonly grown fuchsias are the products of decades of cross breeding of cultivars, but two species are dominant in the genetic background of these plants. Fuchsia magellanica, a species from South America, has the virtue of being extremely hardy and quite able to survive a Northern European winter. Fuchsia fulgens originates from Central America, lacks hardiness but is renowned for the beauty of its abundant flowers. By crossing these two species (and their variants), early fuchsia breeders were able to produce a whole range of cultivars, many of them incorporating the different virtues of the parents. Although other species were used in early breeding programmes (for example F.triphylla in combination mainly with F.boliviana or F.fulgens, led to the development of the ever-popular “Triphylla Hybrids), magellanica and fulgens remain predominant in the gene pool. In relation to other plants, fuchsias are reasonably little troubled by pests and diseases, but some susceptibility to these problems has built up due to the lack of genetic variation in the pedigree of our modern cultivars. It is only in the past twenty-five years that have breeders looked towards using other species to bring in new vigour and variety.

If you are looking for a trouble-free, easy growing fuchsia, then look no further than Fuchsia glazioviana. This species from the cloud forests of southern Brazil, has a proven resistance to fuchsia rust and seems unpalatable red spider and white fly. In California, where fuchsia gall mite has decimated cultivars with strong magellanica blood, F.glazioviana has also proved totally resistant to that problem too. Short-jointed and low growing, glazioviana produces an abundance of smallish, but attractive, deep pink and mauve flowers. The foliage of this species is also eye-catching as the bright green leaves, produced in whorls of three, have a shiny texture and a faint bronze tinge to their underside. F.glazioviana is a vigorous species and looks particularly good cascading from an eight-inch hanging pot.

Another very easy-to-grow species is Fuchsia denticulata. Originating from the cloud forests on the slopes of the Andes in Bolivia and Peru, F.denticulata has a distinctly exotic appearance with a long cerise tube, sepals tinged green at the tips and an orange corolla. Denticulata is not hardy, but large bushy specimens can be produced quite quickly by treating this species as you would any upright fuchsia. Shape the plant by “stopping” (pinching out) the growing tips at regular intervals and a free-flowering bush will be the result. Ideal as a conservatory specimen, a feature in a patio pot or as a stunning show-plant, F.denticulata is so easy to grow that it should be in everyone’s collection.

To the uninitiated, many species fuchsias are barely recognisable as fuchsias at all. Laurel-like leaves and flowers borne in clusters resembling lilac blooms: can this be a fuchsia? Actually two species F.paniculata and F.arborescens fit this description. Both come from the moist forests of Central America where they can grow into trees some 25 feet tall. Fuchsia paniculata is the easier of these two species to cultivate and although you might struggle to achieve a specimen of tree-like proportions, a shapely bush some four feet tall can fill a large patio planter within a couple of seasons. Paniculata produces scores of tiny pale lilac flowers carried in sprays (panicles) at the end of the branches. The leaves (up to six inches long) have a glossy lustre and provide a perfect foil for the abundant flower clusters. Easy to grow and vigorous, F.paniculata is not fully hardy and will require some winter protection.

From laurel leaves to tiny fern-like foliage! The latter description characterises plants from a section of the fuchsia family known as the Encliandras. Any member of this section (species or cultivar) would merit a place in your collection, many of them are hardy and most are “short-day” flowering (i.e. they are at their best in spring or autumn and, given protection, will flower through the winter too). Fuchsia microphylla is typical of these plants, originating from the forested mountain slopes of Mexico. Last year, my plant of F.microphylla flowered profusely from August to June and spent the winter days outside in a large patio pot and the nights in the frost protection of a garage. The flowers themselves are tiny (less than a centimetre in length) and shine out like pink jewels from the darkish green fern-like foliage. Like most Encliandras, F.microphylla is vigorous in growth and trouble-free, my four year old plant is some four feet high and shaped like a Christmas Tree. In the garden most Encliandras are hardy enough to survive mild winters as evergreens in sheltered places. Well worth growing!

There are, of course, dozens of other fascinating and easy-to-grow species available and the above can only serve as an appetiser for anyone wishing to acquire a taste for “fuchsias in the raw." Where can you obtain species fuchsias? The specialist nurseries that we visit will have a selection of good quality species. For a greater range of species, including many rarities, I would recommend Clay Lane Nursery in Surrey. So please try these wonderful fuchsias and don’t let me hear anyone saying that they don’t like species!

OVERWINTERING FUCHSIA'S

If you own a greenhouse you are three quarters of the way there in overwintering your plants successfully. The first question is, do you want to heat it? There are many ways to do this, but the most common two are by parrafin heaters or electricity. There are pro's and con's to both of these ways. Lets take parrafin first. What are the advantages? Well it is reasonably cheap to buy and run, in fact its still possibly the cheapest way to heat a greenhouse. A single burner will keep a six by eight foot greenhouse frost free, and a double burner will possibly keep plants in the "green". So what are the disadvantages? Probably the inconvenience. You have to go out to buy the parrafin, and always make sure you have a supply handy. It means you must keep an eye on the weather reports to see if they reckon theres going to be a frost that night. You will have to keep the burners clean and keep the heater serviced. Unless you are so keen as to go down the garden in the middle of the night, you will have to decide before you go to bed to light or not to light the heater. Its a nuisance on the nights when it starts off frosty, and then in the middle of the night over comes the cloud cover and the temperature rises, and you are burning parrafin unnecessarily and wasting money. There could be trouble if the opposite happens and it suddenly becomes frosty and you did not light up.

The next way is to heat with electricity. The advantages are that they virtually run themselves. If you incorporate a thermostat with them they will react to weather condiions without you having to go anywhere near the greenhouse at all. Set the thermostat on a frost setting and when the temperature drops they will come on, and when the greenhouse warms up enough, they will switch off. The main disadvantage is the cost of running them. They can be expensive, especially if you get a very cold spell. Of course it depends on what type of heaters you use how dear your bills will be. You can buy tube heaters that will keep a greenhouse frost free, and they will be fairly cheap to run, perhaps just slightly dearer than using parrafin, but if you want to have the greenhouse that little bit warmer to do cuttings or seeds, you will probably need a special greenhouse heater or fan heater both of which will cost more to run. It will also cost more for the initial set-up as you will need to get an electricity supply run to your greenhouse. if you are worried about doing this yourself you should seek the help of a competent electrician. I still think it is safe to do it yourself as long as a residue leakage detector has been added to the circuit.

If you have a greenhouse and you dont want to, or can't heat it, all is not lost. You can use horticultural fleece to protect your plants. Horticultural fleece is a glass fibre woven sheet, that will the makers say, keep out up to five degrees of frost. All you have to do is drape the fleece over the plants when there's a chance there is going to be a frost or its going to be fairly cold. Its light enough that it will not damage your plants when you cover them, but again it will mean you will have to keep an eye on the weather forecast. Whatever way you decide you must remember to ventilate by opening vents and doors whenever possible or you are likely to have problems with mildew or botritis. If you have a cold damp atmosphere you will be asking for trouble. An occasional spray with a fungicide will also be beneficial. Next, you have not got a greenhouse, but you do have a conservatory. If its naturally warm in there you can use this for your plants. But beware, you don't want it too warm! Too much warmth and low light levels in winter will lead to long spindly growth. If it is not heated you can use the fleece as with the cold greenhouse.

The next possibility is an enclosed porch. Again using horticultural fleece it should be possible to overwinter a few plants successfully. A cold room, and I stress a cold room, will also make a reasonable overwintering accommodation, as will a cellar. Anything of this nature will let your plants tick over until spring comes round again. At a push the window sill of a room will house a couple of plants, but make sure that if you draw the curtains at night that the plants are inside them and not against the window. If none of the above are available to you, your last resort, if you have a small space outside, is to get a large cardboard box. Stand it on a few bricks or something similar to keep it off the ground. Put your plants in the box and surround them with scrunched up newspaper, and again cover with fleece. Put an old blanket or cover over the top when theres a frost warning and cover the whole lot with polythene sheeting to keep out the damp. Whatever method you decide to use, you must keep an eye on your plants on a regular basis. I give my plants a "once over" every day, and a more extensive examination once a week. Keep your plants free from dead or dying leaves. Open the vents and door whenever possible to let air circulate. When it comes to watering, we come to an area where there is a difference of opinion amongst different people. It is very hard to explain how wet or dry your plants should be kept. After a couple of years it becomes automatic to know how they should look. I know this will sound stupid, but the only way i can describe it is to say they should be on the dry side of moist. Many of the speakers we have, and some of the books you will read, say if you are not sure about whether to water or not - if in doubt don't! I'm afraid I disagree. I think more plants are lost each winter through under watering rather than giving them too much. So I say if in doubt, give them a small amount of water. The contents of an egg cup will more than suffice.

Well I hope this article has been of some help to you. Please don't despair, fuchsia's are hardier than most people think. With the slightest help you should get them through the winter, and if not, you can always get some from our society, or a nursery, next year. Good luck.

TRY A LITTLE EASTERN CULTURE By.....Ken Edwards

Any visitors to the British Fuchsia Soc. London Show at Uxbridge College in August 2000 this year, should have considered their trip more than worthwhile. The standard of entries were just as high as normal, and visitors could only marvel at the sheer quality of entries throughout the show. This was highlighted particularly in the reinstated "ten x 6 1/2" pot class" (won by Paul Heavens), and also by the most spectacular plant I have ever seen, which was a fan trained "Waveney Gem" absolutely covered in flowers, measuring at least 6 ft across, and seemingly almost as high. This was a three and a half year old plant shown by Chris Woolston of Oakham, Rutland.

However I would like to highlight another aspect of the London Show - to perhaps a facit of growing Fuchsias which is gradually becoming more and more popular "BONSAI"

The class for bonsai fuchsias attracted at least two dozen entries, and the area was seemingly always crowded with people studying what appeared to be more like "Works of Art". What a problem the judges would have had to work out the best - from these beautifully presented plants!

I pen the following lines not because I am an expert on growing bonsai fuchsias (certainly not the case) more because during Autumn is an excellent time to be choosing a likely plant to grow on for next year, and also because I believe all fuchsia collections are greatly enhanced by having a few bonsai specimens.

Briefly the way I suggest anyone should start off a plant to be grown in this fashion is as follows:

1. Choosing your specimen plant:-

At the end of the growing season (about now) look carefully at those varieies that have small flowers, and small leaves. In particular look for a plant that is rather twisted or mishapen. It could be a plant from a hanging pot or basket, and being at the end of the season will be getting quite a "woody" stem, also it has perhaps assumed a rather straggly shape. This type of fuchsia plant may still also be on sale at Nurseries or Garden Centres at a greatly reduced price.


2. Starting off your selected plant:-

I will assume you are preparing the plant to over-winter! Prune back the roots so that your intended plant can fit snugly into say a 3 or 3 ½ " pot. Next carefully prune back the top growth to show a "natural" tree like shape, . Cut off all lower branches that would otherwise be at soil level, also leaves and branches looking downwards from the head of the plant.

Now brace yourself - having shaped it, you will be putting the plant away for the winter (hopefully in a greenhouse with a temperature always a little above freezing) I would advise you to defoliate (take the leaves off) the plant completely, the same as your other fuchsias. The old leaves can harbour insects, disease, and should not belong in your greenhouse.

3. Potting up your newly shaped plant:-

Because your plant will end up next Spring being planted into a fairly shallow-type pot
a soil-less compost will not really do the job. Your "Bonsai plant" next year will need to be firmly anchored, so I would suggest a compost along the lines of:-

2 parts sieved peat or peat based compost
2 parts fresh John Innes No.2 (or sieved garden soil - Mole-hill is superb!)
1 part fine horticultural grit.

The above mix is not strictly necessary through the winter, but why not let the plant's roots get used to this medium right from the start! So pot up your plant and water lightly.

4. Final Potting:-

Next March/April find yourself a shallow container (this could range from an empty supermarket pet-food tin to a much more expensive china specialist job) tip out your plant and expose the root system. Using a sharp pair of clippers trim right back until you have the correct amount of root for your plant's new home. The container should have a hole in the bottom. Crock the container if you wish, then put a little of the new compost in the bottom of your container, place your plant on this and carefully pack the compost into the pot making sure there are no gaps.

The plant obviously must still be secure in a less than normal amount of soil. Therefore you can choose to pass a thin piece of wire around the base of the stem of the plant and then take the wire though the hole in the bottom of the container, and tie to a small washer underneath, making the whole thing nice and secure. Personally I have found no wiring to be necessary - a small percentage of East London clay in my own compost settles any plant and nothing much is going to move about!

5. Growing on:-

Any container where there is a reduction of compost available to the plant means you have to keep a careful eye as to watering. Therefore in the main growing season you would almost certainly have to water at least once a day and sometimes it's beneficial to immerse the container in water until the bubbles stop appearing. As with all plants feeding occasionally with an all-round feed such as Chempak No. 3 will keep your bonsai ticking over nicely. With reasonable care Bonsai fuchsias are certainly not that difficult to cultivate and will give pleasure for many years.

The winner at Uxbridge I believe was over 20 years old!


Finally a few cultivars that could make good Bonsai subjects include - Son of Thumb, Magellanica alba, Buttons & Bows, Lottie Hobbie, Papoose, and my own favourite "Pink Rain", but there are many more.

POTTING ON by.......Percy Graham (Editor MEFS)

I tend to listen carefully to advice offered by others, especially when the advice comes from people who have proved by their achievements that they know (or should know) what they're talking about. In the fuchsia world there is no shortage of such advice, including many 'golden rules' that have been passed on from expert to expert from time immemorial. I have to confess that there are one or two of these golden rules about which I have my doubts. Take for instance the rule about potting on. "You should pot on in one inch increments", so it goes - that is, from a 3" pot to a 4", from a 4" to a 5", and so on. The advice is given in old fuchsia books, and in modern ones too. You will find it in magazine articles, and speakers at our monthly meetings will tell us to do it as well. Everybody says so. The reasons given for this practice seem, on the face of it, to make some sense. I have come across three. The first suggests that by such practice we encourage the plant to develop a compact root system that makes use of all the room and compost available to it. Here I am not at all sure that the development of a root system in soil-based compost in a clay pot that is porous to air and moisture is necessarily the same as that in peat-based compost in an impervious plastic pot. But let's put that point aside for the time being. The other two reasons are that it is not good practice to give the plant access to too great a quantity of compost that might grow stale or have its fertiliser leached out of it before the roots reach it. There is also the risk that a large excess of compost might get (and remain) waterlogged - an adverse condition that could affect the whole of the pot. Recently I have been doing some calculations on the volumes of compost in various size pots, taking into account the small space we leave between the top of the compost and the top of the pot to allow for watering. The results are given in the table below. They are approximate because of the small variations between one manufacturer and another. If we look at the increase in the amount of compost we make available to the plant as we pot up from one size of pot to the next, the one-inch rule appears to be satisfactory. As the plant gets bigger, the extra volume of compost given to it by potting on gets bigger too - no problem! But if we look at the increment as a percentage increase over the previous root volume a rather different picture emerges. Here we find that the percentage increase from one pot size to the next gets progressively smaller as the pot sizes get bigger. Thus in potting on from a 2" pot to a 3" pot we give the root system over 200% extra compost (i.e. over twice as much) whereas by potting on from 5" to 6" we provide an extra volume of compost of only 59% (i.e. just over half as much). Bearing in mind that most of our potting on from 2" to 3" is done in the early part of the year when plant growth is slow, and that we pot on from the larger sizes later on when root growth and foliage area are much greater, the 1" potting on rule seems scarcely to meet its objectives - quite the opposite, in fact. Personally, I usually keep to the 1" potting rule up to the 4" size, but after that - providing the plant is growing vigorously - I jump to a 6" pot (other times I go from a 3" pot to a 5"). Then, if I want the plant to go into a larger pot, I go straight to a 7", 8" or even a 10" size. In other words, my 1" rule quickly becomes a 2+" rule. So far I've never experienced any adverse effects from this practice. As far as I'm concerned the slavish adoption of the one-inch potting on rule is a bit potty. But then, someone out there might like to try to shoot me down. I suppose it's all a matter of common sense really. As my old grandmother used to say, "everything in moderation". Just about the three wisest words I ever heard, I think - albeit a bit boring.

(Article courtesy of Metropolitan Essex Fuchsia Society website)

MULTI-PLANT FUCHSIA'S By.......Nick Dobson (Secretary MEFS)

To claim to have invented any horticultural technique is an exercise fraught with danger. In his book "How to Grow Fuchsias", Ken Pilkington describes the method of growing more than one fuchsia in the same pot as "my new approach to growing fuchsias". In truth this method, in one form or another, has been around for over a century. Many of you will have seen photographs of James Lye and George Bright posing beside exhibition plants that tower some three or four feet above them. Documentary proof now indicates that these massive fuchsia pyramids were developed from several plants rather than from a single cutting. Long before I even joined a fuchsia society, my preferred method of displaying my fuchsias was to pot three bushy plants (grown in three-inch pots) into a two-litre tub, thus forming an instant exhibition size fuchsia. There is no one single multi-plant method. Ken Pilkington's preferred technique is to fill a three-inch pot with anything from nine to fifteen soft-tip cuttings, root them in the normal way (in a propagator or on the windowsill covered with a clear plastic bag etc.) and from that point onwards grow the pot full of cuttings as if it were a single plant. So instead of separating the cuttings once they are rooted, the cuttings are grown on and potted on (when necessary) without being disturbed. Some of the advantages claimed are: a) A large specimen with a pleasing shape can be achieved quicker than if a single plant is used. b) A denser canopy of foliage covers the surface of the compost very quickly, thus providing beneficial shade to the roots. c) Compared with a single plant, a superior root system is established comprising mainly fine feeding roots rather than thick, long anchorage roots. Furthermore it is claimed that fuchsias grown under this method are less prone to vine weevil attack because the grubs feed mainly on the thicker roots which are absent in these cases. In addition, plants grown this way can be left in quite small pots for longer periods, making this form of multi-plant ideal for small-pot culture. Ken Pilkington's second method of multi-pot culture is similar to the one I have taken up this year with a view to producing show plants under the new BFS rules (see below). Cuttings are rooted in similar fashion to that described above, but once rooting has taken place, the individual plants are divided and spaced out into a three or four-inch pot. Five or seven young plants or "plugs" can be used in this way (e.g. four around the rim of the pot and one in the middle). The plusses claimed for the previous version of multi-plant are also applicable to this method, and hopefully if a naturally bushy and self-branching cultivar is used, a show standard plant can be achieved in a single season.

A further advantage claimed for both of these methods is that some of the fascinating cultivars that are too long-jointed to make handsome showbench specimens will grow in a more compact fashion enabling the likes of "Checkerboard", "Mrs.Lovell Swisher" and even "Chang" to compete with the "Shelfords" and "Walz Jubelteens" on the bench. The multi-plant methods described thus far can be used for all types of cultivar (including triphyllas) and for all pot sizes from three and a half-inch upwards. Ken Pilkington doesn't favour moving his multi-plants into anything larger than a five-inch pot during the first season. The greatest virtue of any multi-plant method lies in the speed and ease of production of large specimens that will grace a patio tub or provide the "wow" factor for the public at shows and displays. In recent years our shows have included a special class for multi-plants. My two successful show multi-plants from last year ("Shelford" and "Loulabel") comprised three plants in eight and ten inch pots respectively. In both cases cuttings were struck in January and grown individually until they formed strong, bushy plants in three and a half-inch pots. Three plants of even growth were planted equidistantly around an eight-inch pot where they remained to grow on to form large "shrubs" (the "Loulabel" was potted on to a ten-inch clay pot later in the season). From this description it is easy to see that my multi-plant method is simply a development of the technique used for producing hanging baskets: in fact my multi-plants were baskets brought down to earth! Although Ken Pilkington's claims to have invented multi-plant bare scant scrutiny, he has certainly brought the method to prominence and has refined the technique considerably. I remain sceptical about the effectiveness of his preferred method (the first method described above), as crowding so many cuttings into one pot and growing them on as a single unit leaves the "plant" prone to botrytis at all stages of growth. The description of multi-plant techniques given above is only a brief overview, and if you want to know more about the subject, I would recommend Ken Pilkington's book which is full of interest and good ideas. Do try one of the multi-plant methods, you can certainly achieve large plants with ease and rapidity.

(Article courtesy of Metropolitan Essex Fuchsia Society website)

MIRIDS (Capsid) By........Arthur C Boggis (President MEFS)

Two species (the 'tarnished plant bug' or 'bishops bug' Lygus Rugulipennis and the common green capsid Lygocoris Pabulinus) damage fuchsias and can be very troublesome pests. They are both green in colour, although the first named species has brown or black colouration on the head and thorax. They are slightly larger than a housefly, their bodies being flattened and shiny. They are extremely difficult to find as they take flight at the slightest disturbance. If you move towards a plant and your body casts a sudden shadow over the plant they will fly off or rapidly move to the lower part of the plant. The tarnished plant bug is the most widespread mirid in glasshouses, where it can cause serious damage. It feeds by puncturing leaves and stems with its long stylet. The young plant tissues develop brown calluses as a result of the toxic action of the salivary juices injected into the plant cells. Characteristic damage involves twisting and stunting of the young leaves, and the apical shoots become blind. This has the same effect as 'stopping' the plant, with the appropriate extra length of time before the plant flowers. During the winter it hibernates as an adult amongst dead leaves, from which it emerges in the spring (March-May). Once introduced into a heated greenhouse it will continue to feed during the winter. The common green capsid over winters as an egg which is resistant to temperatures as low as -20C. The damage caused is similar to that induced by the tarnished plant bug. These capsids will be found active on fuchsias outdoors from mid-June through to September. They may be controlled with Sybol, Malathion, and Pyrethrum. These should be rotated to avoid breeding a strain that is resistant to one type of spray. Thorough spraying should reach the underside of the leaves, the ground below the plants, and any nearby hedges. The greenhouse may be fumigated with gamma-HCH smokes, which give an effective means of control.

(Article courtesy of Metropolitan Essex Fuchsia Society website)

THREE DISCOVERIES FOR 2001 By.........Nick Dobson

Fuchsia growing (fuchsia-mania in my case!) like all hobbies passes through a number of different stages. There’s the acquisition stage in the early years when the urge is to collect as many varieties and cultivars as you can. There’s the satiation stage, a reaction to stage one when you realise that you have far too many fuchsias and you begin to focus your collection on fuchsias for the show bench, on species fuchsias, on large doubles, or on hybridising for example. Finally the grower arrives at the stage of maturity when the basic collection has been formed and just a few new gems are added every year. The three fuchsias described here are all recent introductions and after growing them for the first time in 2001, I am certain that they will form part of my collection for years to come.

Without doubt, my Fuchsia of the Year is “Dymph Werker van Groenland”, a new introduction from the brilliant Dutch breeder Martin Beije. “DYMPH WERKER VAN GROENLAND” is a paniculate-type fuchsia that produces an abundance of small orange-pink flowers in fairly loose clusters. The foliage is typical of the paniculates, resembling F.paniculata in shape and texture although the leaves are much smaller. What makes this fuchsia remarkable, apart from the unfortunately cumbersome name, is the length of flowering season. My plant came into bloom in late June and is still in full flower in mid-November. This year I restricted my specimen of “DYMPH WERKER VAN GROENLAND” to a five-inch pot and the plant responded not only by flowering for fun, but also by forming a well-shaped, self-branching upright bush in an “open-growth” style. Second or third year old plants of this cultivar will, I suspect, make medium-sized paniculate specimens. Ideal as a patio plant, as a summer bedding subject or as a show fuchsia (my little first-year plant won two red cards this year!), “DYMPH WERKER VAN GOENLAND” should prove a popular introduction if it can overcome the burden of that name!

Another paniculate-type from Martin Beije deserves its place as my second choice. “MARTIN'S INSPIRATION” produces scores of tiny orange flowers in large terminal panicles on a strong-growing upright bush. More vigorous than “DYMPH WERKER VAN GROENLAND”, my plant of “MARTIN'S INSPIRATION” progressed to a seven-inch pot by the end of the season and I am sure that this will be a subject for a large patio pot as a second year plant. Because of the sheer abundance of flowers, “MARTIN'S INSPIRATION” will do well as a show plant in the “Catch All” classes found in most shows nowadays. The one fault that I found with this cultivar was that it didn’t come into flower until late in the season (mid August). This might not prove too much of a problem in the future as many paniculate-types (my own “LORD JIM” for example) are late flowering as immature plants, and I suspect that as an older specimen “MARTINS INSPIRATION” will bloom by mid-summer.

One of the most prolific breeders of fuchsias in the world today is our own Mick Allsop. Mick has now bred over sixty new cultivars, mainly large lax doubles, and he continues to produce quality new fuchsias each year. Two excellent orange doubles featured among the cultivars newly available during 2001. “AMAZING MAISIE” is a particularly handsome fuchsia with medium-sized semi to fully double blooms of exquisite shape with the sepals swept back to reveal the beauty of the smoky orange corolla with beautiful light orange-pink marbling. However, just edging out “AMAZING MAISIE” as one of my three discoveries is “JENNY BRINSON” with her beautiful red-orange semi-double flowers produced in great abundance over a long flowering season. The corolla of “JENNY BRINSON” is a shade darker than the tube and sepals, otherwise this cultivar would be a true self-coloured fuchsia, but the long sepals, swept three-quarters back give this beauty an elegance that makes it perfect as a basket or hanging pot subject or for use as a lax plant around the outside of a patio tub. “JENNY BRINSON” is named after the charming wife of my friend and work colleague, Chris Brinson and both Chris and Jenny have been converted into fuchsia fans partly by the beauty of this cultivar. I really think that Mick should name a fuchsia in honour of Jenny’s first cousin Liz Hurley; it would be great publicity for the Society!

My three discoveries of 2001 will, I am sure, continue to give me a great deal of pleasure for years to come. If anyone has found a new cultivar that they would recommend, why not pen (or word-process) a few words to our editor? I’m sure we’d all like to read about your discoveries.

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