In praise of fabulous fuchsia

Fabulous fuchsias

Fabulous fuchsias grow well in Canberra.

THE fuchsia plant has one of the most misspelt names in the plant kingdom, so often shown as “fuschia”.

I am constantly told that one cannot grow fuchsias in this district, whereas nothing is further from the truth; fuchsias occur naturally only in two parts of the world, Central and South America and NZ.

The missionary, Father Plumier, introduced them into the Western world in the 18th century.

Plumier was searching in South America for the quinine tree for medicinal purposes and was taken by the fuchsia. He named the fuchsia after Dr Leonard Fuchs (1501-1566), who held the chair of botany at Tubingen University, a botanical hero of Plumiers.

But why also NZ? It is believed the early explorers from Peru carried these on boats and borne out by the adventurer Thor Heyerdahl, who with his famous Kon Tiki balsa wood raft, proved the possibility of Peruvians arriving in NZ.

The uses of fuchsia fruit include wine, fuchsia fruit cake and a dessert sauce, all of which I have recipes.

In the ‘70s I used to grow and sell fuchsias when we lived in Narrabundah. I know of folk who still have fuchsias growing in their gardens purchased from me at that time.

People growing fuchsias for the first time see the leaves drop at the first frosts and think the plant is dead. They are no different to any other deciduous plant. A few warm days in spring and the new leaves soon start to appear. At this time, any obviously dead branches can be removed. They are excellent for hanging gardens mixed with bedding begonias, ivy geraniums or trailing lobelia.

The Geranium and Fuchsia Society meetings are a great place to learn more about fuchsias (contact Rex Daley, 6281 3213). For full details on growing fuchsias, refer to my Cedfacts Garden Information Sheet “Fuchsias for Fabulous Colour” at www.cedricbryant.com

The hanging basket tree at the Lindemans Open Garden

The hanging basket tree at the Lindemans Open Garden.

ONE of the fun items at Floriade is the Lindemans Open Garden where, besides wine tasting, every Friday, Saturday and Sunday and all long weekends, visitors can try their hand at potting up hanging baskets, with all the necessary items provided by Lindemans.

These go on the amazing basket tree for all to see and, at the end of each day, your floral basket can be taken home. This is a great idea to encourage children to have a go at gardening.

IT has been great meeting so many “CityNews” readers at my talks at The Victory Garden at Floriade. I will be giving further talks and demonstrations on Saturday, October 15, noon-2pm and on the final day of Floriade, Sunday, October 16, 1pm-2pm and 3pm-4pm. Make yourself known and you may receive a lucky prize.

STOP PRESS: The new Daphne “Eternal Fragrance”, which I highlighted in last week’s column, has been awarded the prestigious title of Best New Product in the 2011 Australian Business Awards.

In the sunny garden this week:

PAINT the inside of wooden barrels with bituminous paint such as Ormonoid, to preserve the timber. Plus, nail galvanised clouts under the steel bands to hold them in place.

WHEN reading about fuchsias, also check my Cedfacts Garden Information Sheet “Brighten up your Veranda with Hanging Gardens”, which has suggestions on what to grow in baskets.

LINE hanging gardens with carpet underlay, the multi-coloured foam type with the plastic backing. Plastic goes on the inside and put in a few drainage holes. It is easy to make holes to place bedding plants around the sides of the basket.

USE only the best-quality potting mix in all containers and baskets such as Debco Organic Mix.

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