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Picked up couple dozen Fuchsias

15 years ago

It's Fuchsia-planting time in my part of the world. I finally got replacements for 'Billy Green', which died last year. It's a triphylla type, but probably has a little admixture of something else as it is capable (barely) of overwintering here if mulched. Not quite a strong enough grower to really grow well this far north but its flowers have roughly the Triphylla look and are a pretty shade of hot pink that really stands out. It looked really good its last year of life.

I bought a few species, including F. magellanica var molinae (aka "alba" or "magalba" despite the fact that they are not white), a big hardy magellanica type from the island of Chiloe. I had one last place I lived, but it was far too big to dig up and take with me, and the root sucker I did take didn't make it.

Also bought F. denticulata, which probably isn't entirely hardy here, and F. splendens, which is borderline so. Oh well I am already growing F. boliviana which is barely hardy here either. Fuchsia boliviana is worth the trouble as it is quite striking. I have both red and the red-and-white "alba" forms.

I already have "Celia Smedley" but I bought a few extras to raise and sell. It has striking colors--bright candy pink and sort of a dark cerise.

I found "Minnesota" which has fairly good-sized flowers, but checking at the Bellevue Botanical Garden webpage, not colored quite the way I thought I remembered them.

Unfortunately they didn't have any 'Cardinal' (which I think is the same plant as "Rouge Cardinal'), a big red that I have had in the past but probably don't anymore (not sure! tags went missing many years ago), and also didn't have "President", which I lost during a fiasco involving car thieves running around my garden trying to get away from the police dogs chasing them. I am still looking for large-flowered, vigorous, shrubby Fuchsias that make good specimen plants. Someone in my neighborhood has a fine specimen of one of the bigger, large-flowered hardies and it really stands out.

I always look for striking colors or color combinations. Wild Fuchsias are usually mostly red or pink, often with eggplant purple corollas, and often green sepal tips. Fuchsia procumbens is luridly colored--something like green and orange with blue pollen, as I recall! Breeders have isolated other colors, and the salmony and near-orange shades are often found on relatively tender plants, often lacking in vigor. So I sprang for several plants with flowers in that range of shades that are relatively hardy for that type. Also for plants with pastel tubes and sepals.

Sometimes breeder intentionally breed them for weak stems, on the theory that they are going to "train" them. I am far too busy to train a Fuchsia, I am not terribly fond of "lollipop trees" ("standards"--no idea why they call them that), and anyway the top would freeze off on me as those are only for rich people with greenhouses to overwinter them in. I like strong, self-supporting growth and a nice plant shape--vaguely fountain-shaped. Hard to find good landscaping types that way (except some of the wild species--which are apt to have small flowers in only a few colors).

I am having increasing trouble with plant theft and vandalism. Unfortunately the best spot for the Fuchsias, where they look splendid, is along a walkway past my back yard. So far they haven't been attacked yet but it makes my wife and I nervous. In bloom they just scream for attention. I lost a clump of Lilium auratum that way--and those were on a terrace--someone had to walk right into my yard to get them.

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