Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It's got a great Fuchsia

Fuchsia magellanica by our gate at Doorus, Co Clare

Beautiful ballerina-like flowers

The Fuchsia is a plant that used to drive me to distraction. Not because it was hard to propagate or difficult to grow, or anything horticultural like that. People just seem to find it so hard to spell.

As an editor working on horticultural publications it was one of those bogey words. However much I told my writers how it should be spelled, it would still arrive on my desk as Fuschia. Aaaargh. Just typing it that way brings me out in a cold sweat.

It got so bad I resorted to sticking a large notice on the office wall with the correct spelling in letters a foot tall.

So there were mixed feelings when I moved to this plot in Ireland and found out that many of the hedges were of the hardy fuchsia. But seeing it this time of the year, dripping with its beautiful red and purple flowers that dance in the breeze, any bad memories are instantly washed away.

The species we have is one of the hardiest, Fuchsia megallanica. It looks so at home here it’s hard to believe it’s actually a very long way from home – the clue to how far is in the name. It’s actually native to Chile – from the area near the Magellan Straits.

Trinity College Dublin lists it as an invasive alien species to Ireland. I know they’re probably technically right, but there are aliens and aliens and this one, like ET, is certainly a friendly one.

How it found its way here is somewhat disputed, but it has probably been here since the early 18th century. Charles Plumier certainly brought it back from his plant hunting expedition to South America around 1700 and was responsible for naming it Fuchsia in honour of the German botanist Leonhart Fuchs.

You see … it’s easy. It’s named after Fuchs so it’s Fuchs..ia. I can hear myself repeating this endlessly to aspiring writers and seeing the same glazed look in their eyes.

Sorry …. I must get over it!

So Fuchsia magellanica made its way to Britain along with a number of other species and it became one of the parents of many of the fuchsia hybrids we now know and love to grow. It’s reckoned there are some 8000 hybrids in the garden trade around the world – a reflection of our universal love for this wonderful plant.

But I think the original species is still a great plant in its own right and worthy of a place in any large garden.

Just remember though …. if you decide to comment, just watch that spelling. Get it wrong and I’ll be after you with my editor’s blue pencil!


BT said...

Naturally I've had it drummed into me how to spell fuchsia, I daren't get it wrong! I, too, love it and especially in the hedgerows around the coast, it looks breathtaking. An excellent and informative post.

Helen said...

Yes, Herr Fuchs is the way I always remember to spell it. In a previous life, mind you, I used to have to compose letters to a Herr Fuchs, and was plagued by a different kind of spelling error. This was in the pre-word-processing days, with carbon paper in triplicate. Much paper was wasted.

Am very envious of the F. magellanica in the UK. One I always use in my containers is F. gartenmeister. Not hardy in my USDA Zone 5 garden, but a reliable bloomer in shade (which I have aplenty) and can be babied indoors over winter.


Hello TW. Very interesting post on the history of Fyusha (just teasing)/ Fuchsia. We used to live in the Pacific Northwest or North Wet as we called it. We had one of you beautiful "native" fuchsia's in a bed beside the house. It was truly lovely. I liked it so much more than the large fancy ones found in garden stores.

Thanks again for sharing.


p.s. Glad your planting some Echinacea. It's about my favorite perennial. I hope it does well for you. It is a native prairie plant (ie lots of sun and fairly dry) in the States. Keep us posted, please.


Oooooops! I meant "you're". Sorry.

Bea said...

Well, that cracked me up. I wouldn't dare spell it wrong now. Let's hope spell checker knows the correct spelling. lololsnort
My mother used to correct my correspondence to her, from school, with a RED pen.
She would send it back to me, nicely corrected. Our correspondence ended soon after that. But, that's another story.
I LOVE FUCHSIA. Here we only see them as lovely hanging pots for the brief summer season. They love my shady deck under the upper deck.
I bet my blog grammer and spelling makes you want to pop down to the nearest pub, heh? lolol

Twisted willow said...

I think it's probably grounds for divorce, BT!
Helen: Thanks for looking in. I thought it was too indelicate to mention the other common misspelling of fuchsia that was often inflicted on us by bored typesetters testing out our proof-reading skills. I'm surprised we didn't get damage on our fuchsias as we had an unusually cold snap last winter with temperatures down to -8C - nothing like you experience in Canada, but cold for us.
I can see you'd have been a menace in the office, Coneflower, devising news ways of misspelling fuchsia. We're probably about as far from prairie conditions as you can get, but I thought I'd have a go at Echinacea.

Twisted willow said...

I'm very tolerant, Bea .... well quite tolerant.
Oh ... OK, I'm not at all tolerant, but I promise not to mark your work ;-)
Actually, it sometimes makes reading difficult because there are so many mistakes in newspapers and magazines .... I wish I didn't spot them all.

lakeviewer said...

Yes, indeed, it is a lovely plant, your fuchsia. Mine are a bit gangly. What makes yours so healthy and big?

Jason said...

Me dad has one of these (or very similar) in his little garden. He hacks the granny out of it anytime of the year as it invades the neighbours. It doesnt have much light, little soil and it looks amazing. I love these hardy plants that you can't keep down.

I guess I shouldnt even go near fu*kshia spelling as I can't spell as you no. :-)

DK Leather said...

What a lovely entry for one of our favourites in the garden, smashing!

Blue Fox said...

Okay, sorry, can't resist - blue pencil coming out now...and it's not for the genus name, it's for the specific name; you've spelled it 'megallanica' near the top of the post, and then correctly lower down. Edit, edit, and edit again! I won't hold it against you though, great post!

Twisted willow said...

And the prize for spotting my deliberate error goes to .... Blue Fox ;-)

If only!

I knew there was bound to be an error in there somewhere - even though I read it again and again.

Good to have you call by, Blue Fox .... grrrr

suzi said...

I'm going to be the rebel here. this is the first one of your plants that you have posted about that I absolutely don't like. I inherited one in my garden and each year I am tempted to rip it out. It seems so ornamental to me and it clashes with my personality. Sorry.

gardenerprogress/Catherine said...

That is a huge fuchsia. I have one of the same type but it won't be blooming for awhile still, it grows along the side of my pond.
It took me forever to remember the correct spelling.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Hi TW just popped by to say it is a great photo you took of BT yesterday - OK so your hand just slipped and happened to catch the camera button. I must say your life in Clare sounds idyllic - came to Clare once on holiday - all the streets were full of banners because it was some sort of contest (hurling?) Lovely country.

Bea said...

OK, you are WAaaaaaaaaaaaaaay overdue to post!
Sorry to hear about your heavy rain and your corn needing staking up. sigh..
Mother Nature has her moments, heh?
So, remember you have readers out here in blogland. :)Bea

donatella said...

What a beautiful flower! I love these kinds of flowers that droop and appear as if they exist in an upside-down fantasy world. I agree that they look like ballerinas dancing oh-so-gracefully in their striking fuchsia(hope I spelled that right)tutu.

Fine Life Folk said...

that is so remarkable. they're like little fairies dangling for a mystic reason...