Gardening Week 10th Oct. – 16th Oct.
This week I brought into my house a flower that I have never seen for sale in a florist’s store. I assume this is due to its short shelf life but since there is no difficulty in growing an abundance of them in your garden there is no reason why you can’t enjoy it in your house. If the open flowers will not last more than a couple of days and the unopened flowers higher on the stem cannot be coaxed into opening in water, replace them with similar flowers after a few days, to keep your vase looking good for the full week!
Flower of the week from YOUR garden to YOUR table: 10th Oct. – 16th Oct.
Botanical Name: Fuchsia. Common Name: Fuchsia.
The fuchsia is well known but overlooked as a flower for cutting. It is obvious that the bedding and hanging varieties would not make any vase look proud but there are many varieties which have large arching stems and with the pendant dainty flowers spread along the stem they can make a most unusual display. I was initially inspired to try it as a cut flower when I saw the fuchsia bush in the picture in someone’s front garden in full flower. It rises to the first floor window, about 4 metres above the ground and being fully clothed in bloom it is a sight to behold. The bush in the picture is most likely a variety of Fuchsia magellanica called ‘Riccartonii’ as few others would reach such a height, and it is commonly used for hedging, but any tall growing fuchsia will produce a nice arching stem suitable for a vase. So we are not talking about the small fuchsia plants commonly sold in the spring in all garden centres, but specific varieties which will reach at least 90cm.
Cultivation and buying guide:
The main problem with the my fuchsia bushes is that every winter I am nervous if the ones I leave in the garden will survive till next spring. Even the most hardy varieties have difficulty coping if the temperature plummets to below -5oC , although quite often, the foliage will die down and the plant will regrow from its roots. Exceptions are varieties of Fuchsia magellanica which can tolerate slightly lower temperatures. The picture above proves that the micro climate next to a house will allow the warmth radiated from the house (together with global warming!) to keep it snug throughout the winter. Being such a wide genus of flowers, if we wish to buy a bush which will become a long standing member of our garden it is therefore essential to look at the label or you might be buying a shrub that will rise to 50cm and leave you the next winter, so make sure it has a height of at least 90 cm and is at least classed as a hardy shrub. A ‘climbing fuchsia by the name of “Lady Boothby” has recently entered the market but after trying it out against the bush varieties I would still go to for the bush varieties unless you are short of space. The fuchsia colours run from pink through red to purple with many bi colours, an exception is a very hardy bush fuchsia called Hawkshead which is totally creamy white.
In the vase illustrated, I put Hawkshead with its white flowers in the centre and around it I placed the standard red variety with the arching stems. They are all fuchsia flowers but the variation gives it an extra rewarding look.