Extracts from an AFS Journal
I have taken onboard a members suggestion that perhaps we should use the Bookman Old Style font for future issues of our journal. If members or readers have other preferences concerning this or other aspects of the publication, then please let me know.
At the March AGM, two framed photos of fuchsias and the painting donated by Una Wiles, were presented to executive members of the committee. A larger, framed photo of the fuchsia Flirtation Waltz, was presented to Rexene Hill in gratitude for her long service as Society Secretary. Thanks were extended to retiring Officers and a warm welcome given to new committee member, Arna Eyers-White.
At the time of writing I do not have details of this years show. However, I can tell you that the ladies in our Krafty Korner Group, are presently engaged in creating an embroidered quilt or Throw Over to be raffled at the Annual Show. Details of the cost and the availability of books/individual Draw tickets for our local and interstate members will be published in the July Journal.
Due to other commitments, Bob Mack will be unable to carry out the duties of Publicity Officer and I will be standing in for him. This year, I hope to involve the membership to a greater extent to ensure that the details of our Annual Show will get maximum exposure. I also hope that we will again attract the patronage of members and perhaps even visitors from interstate and overseas.
Arna Ayers-White, who made a valuable contribution to the January Journal, has kindly accepted my invitation to adjudicate and select the winning entry in our Grand Essay Competition. Details and rules of entry appear on page 6.
Fuchsias at this Time of Year: John Morris.
By Leaps & Bounds! Weve had success at last in our attempts to set up a frog colony in the back garden of our little cottage. In mid-February, my wife Pat, heard the unmistakable Nee Dip croak of a lone frog from the vicinity of the goldfish pond. Thus started a ritual dusk time listening but sadly after some 10 days - silence. Had our little friend given up his search for a mate or had his quest for love been answered?
Weve looked anxiously for spawn in the three ponds: special attention being given to the largest one which contains goldfish. Alas, we were unsuccessful but remain hopeful that our little friend will stay here long enough to mate up with the next generation of frogs which are developing from the tadpoles which Shirley Asser so kindly donated to us earlier in the year. The main thrust of this little snippet of information is, that we are reasonably confident that our garden has completely recovered from those years of pesticide use. Are you doing your bit?
At the March meeting, reference was made to Marinkas poor root system. Oddly enough, our remaining cultivar which is some 18 years old, was badly hit by that last very hot spell in SA. Thus we decided to remove the gnarled and woody plant from the basket, root prune it if necessary, and replace it in new potting mix.
Pat cleared the mix from around what we thought were the four branches emerging from the surface, only to find that they were in fact, four separate plants (and yes, the root system on each was very weak). At loss to remember when and if we had ever placed new cuttings around the main stem, we washed each root and trimmed off any unhealthy looking growth. We then (after thoroughly washing the Polybark liner) put the four plants in fresh mix, back into the basket.
I wish that I could say that all four plants had produced new growth but despite being placed in intensive care in our propagating house, only one is showing signs of life. Well, we tried and for sentimental reasons we may remove the dead branches and replace them with three new Marinka cuttings.
For those Fuchsia Lovers (especially those of you who have mislaid/lost your copy of The Culture Notes) its time to move on to what we should be doing during the coming months.
APRIL. In this, the second month of our Australian autumn, fuchsias which took a beating from the heat and humidity will be recovering. Large plants that had their buds removed or were tip pruned earlier, will be coming back into their last flush of blooms before winter sets in. Removing dead blooms and their seed pods will extend this flowering-period. Keep the surface of your mix clear of dead leaves and other debris. This isnt just an exercise in cosmetics, it allows water better access to the mix and provides less shelter for pests.
Here are some hints for preparing for the June Cutting Swap Night. While primarily this is a fun night, correct naming and hygiene is essential when packaging your cuttings. Please check each cultivar against its pot, basket or in ground label and ensure it is correct. Check before placing same named cuttings into a zip type plastic bag that they are disease/pest free. Check that each bag is clearly and correctly labelled. This will go a long way to ensuring that when plants propagated from them are sold to the public, exchanged with or sold to another member, the recipient gets the plant that he or she wanted. If you have doubts about the authenticity of a particular cultivar, then please bring along a bloom (it must be fresh) and several leaves, to the May meeting. Hopefully, one of our experts will then be able to identify it. See you there?
MAY. Its time to take down shadecloth mats covering pergolas. It might also be a good idea for those of you who can, to raise your baskets a few inches so that they will receive more of the weaker winter sun.
Potting on. Time waits for no one and if you took cuttings early, they may be ready to pot up. If you are using 2" (5cm) tubes, cuttings that are suitable can easily be recognised by roots that protrude from the drainage holes. However, other tubes may contain cuttings that have root-systems which although not externally visible, are established enough to enable potting on.
With care, you can easily take a peek at the little plants nether regions. Place a finger either side of the stem, invert the tube and gently tap the sides of it with your free hand. The plant, together with a cone of mix, should slide out. Spirals of roots that are visible on the outside of the mix, show the cutting is now mature enough to pot-on into a 5" (13cm) pot. Handle the cutting carefully, to avoid squeezing and thus bruising, the tiny plants stem and lifeline.
THE SPRING SHOW! With this in mind, now is a good time to prepare for the busy days ahead, the period of serious pruning; cleanliness is vital. Wash and disinfect all your propagating tubes; a large plastic dustbin makes an ideal tub. The initial addition of a large cup of bleach to the water, replenished several times during washing process should kill off any bacteria present. Warning! Dont add other disinfectants or you could just create a lethal cocktail and take yourself out as well.
It is absolutely essential that you Pasteurise old propagating mix before use. You can do this by filling several (open), 4 litre plastic ice-cream containers and placing them in a microwave oven at full heat for approximately seven minutes. There are quite a few formulas for making up new propagating (cutting) mix, the main consideration being that it is fairly open.
It is suggested that you use 50% new potting mix, as a base. Make up the total by adding 40% of either: perlite, vermiculite, or coarse, double-washed, river sand, and 10% peat. If you use unfertilised mix, add your own, e.g., Nitrophoska controlled - release, at approximately one gram per litre of mix.
Youll need a good supply of labels. If you cant clean up and reuse your old ones, the friendly staff on the supply table at the monthly meeting will be only too pleased to sell you some. This is a good time to check out your secateurs. If they are beyond redemption, i.e., you cant re sharpen them, invest in a new pair. Id suggest that instead of jumping in and buying a Rolls Royce model, you test out one of the cheaper brands with a view to discarding them at the seasons end. Finally, make sure that you have a large bottle of methylated spirits. Its essential to sterilise your secateurs as you move from plant to plant during pruning sessions and while taking and shaping material for cuttings.
JUNE/JULY. Its Time to prepare for the November Spring Show. It is during this period, that most of your fuchsias will need pruning. The material removed will form the basis for cuttings that will be grown on into 13cm (5") pots for sale at the spring show/swapped or kept for personal use
Have you mislaid your copy of the AFS booklet, Succeeding with Fuchsias in South Australia? A bargain, it costs just $1.50 if bought at the meetings and $2.50 if you are resident in Australia and wish to have it posted out to you. What follows is a modified extract from the section of the. Booklet devoted to Pruning & Taking Cuttings.
It is relatively easy to prune a fuchsia. When you prune you simply, cut off most of the current years growth. This means cutting back your fuchsia plants until their frameworks are approximately the same size as their basket or pot
However, the degree of cutback is dependent on the season, your geographical location, and the state of the plant. Plants that have been scorched by the sun or damaged by frost, should not be pruned back until prolonged periods of cooler or warmer weather are expected. If the new, tender shoots that appear after pruning are subjected to further extremes of heat or cold, they and the plant - may die.
PRUNING. Cut away untidy growth and dead wood, then systematically move around your plant and as you cut back this seasons growth, take care to leave at least two sets of leaf nodes (preferably with signs of life) on each remaining branch. Think of the procedure as you would if you were a surgeon in an operating theatre. Avoid passing on disease from one plant to another during pruning by cleaning your tools with methylated spirits immediately after finishing each plant and swab down your bench top with bleach.
After pruning, your plants will have a reduced leaf area to support and will not require as much watering or feeding until re growth starts (we are talking root rot again) As a form of insurance, always take cuttings when you prune heavily, even if the quality of the cutting material isnt ideal. Sadly, I have lost several old faithfuls together with their cuttings.
FUCHSIA RUST. This highly contagious fungal disease first appears as a reddish or black/brown discolouration on both sides of a leaf. Shortly, orange eruptions (spores) appear on the underside of the leaf and the disease is ready to spread.
The best treatment is prevention - dont overcrowd plants. Ensure good ventilation (rust thrives in humidity), inspect your plants at least weekly, particularly during periods of wet weather. Like cancer in humans, rust is an insidious disease; pick up plants in pots and look under the leaves. If you find rust, remove all affected leaves: seal in a bag and dispose of with your refuse; isolate infested plants.
Fuchsia rust is highly contagious, so please dont sell or give away infected plants. Disinfect your hands and cutting tools in between handling each plant. From now on, check all your plants on a daily basis until you are quite sure the disease has been eradicated. Isolate newly acquired plants (including cuttings you may be given to propagate) until you are sure that they are free of infection. Commercially, rust is controlled with Baycor 300 (also available as Baycor, Rose and Garden Fungicide in a 350mL spray-pack) or Plantvax.
Finally, we thank the contributors to the American Fuchsia Society Bulletin, for the following tips on less toxic insecticides.
Soap/Oil Spray: Probably the best overall insecticide recipe is made from washing liquid and cooking oil. It should be applied more frequently than chemical pesticides, but then again, you do not really want to use poison inside your home.
Here is the recipe: 1/2 teaspoon dish washing liquid 1/4 teaspoon cooking oil, 1 quart warm water. Mix all ingredients in a small spray bottle. Mist upper and under sides of leaves every ten days to control mealy bugs, spider mites, aphids, thrips, or any other sucking or chewing insects.
If any of our members, have other formulae for less poisonous to goodies,
insecticides please let us know.
Fuchsias from the Beginning.
On a cold wet and very windy day in August 1984, my career in fuchsias began!
I watched in desperation as my husbands lovely fuchsia pots took off rolling around the garden, breaking off branches and devastating the plants. As quickly as I ran round picking them up others went flying off, leaving a trail of flowers, branches and leaves everywhere. Desperately, I tried cramming them into his 8ft. X 6ft. greenhouse but this was already supporting his very brave attempt at trying to grow melons in a British climate, plus tomatoes, cucumbers and other prize plants. Eventually, everything calmed down but the picture was not pretty and I dreaded seeing his face when he arrived home from work.
Several years before this day I had saved up to realise my lifes dream of having my own horse and my husband had countered with a greenhouse in which he intended to pursue a hobby of growing something but he was not sure what at that time. Visiting a neighbour who was proudly displaying some fuchsia baskets I could see the light dawning on his face and I knew before we reached home exactly what was going to fill that greenhouse.
A very large chapter of our life began as we flew around the country seeking out varieties that had taken his eye from a myriad of books that he had bought. The sole topic of conversation between us and with anyone who would take part was the white fly problem, best sprays for rust, feed formulae, rooting compound or no rooting compound. However, exactly in the way that horsey conversations tended to pass him by, fuchsia talk did not register deeply in my subconscious and I perfected an attitude of being deeply interested without hearing a thing!
Now here I was faced with this devastation and wished I had listened to something some of the time. I gathered up the beautiful blooms and floated them in a dish so that he could still enjoy them and the twiggy bits I set about sticking in pots in compost so they at least looked better.
Out of this storm came hundreds and hundreds of fuchsias, rooted by my own fair hand and with very little knowledge, (experts take note). Unfortunately, I did not label anything as I thought, just like children, my husband would recognize them when he got home!
The following year I decided that I would like to sell herbs at the door to try to support my horse, who was turning out to be quite the little money guzzler. The sign went up and I sat back waiting for the queues. Alas, the £20 worth of money changed to give change stayed in the box for quite a few days and I nearly fed the herbs straight to the horse and cut out the middleman!
Eventually, one or two customers dribbled in and bought herbs but their eyes were taken by the beautiful fuchsias that filled the garden. They asked me for cuttings and offered to pay for them and suddenly I saw another way of feeding the horse. Not for one minute was I prepared for what happened next. From selling the first pot of fuchsias things escalated and people began turning up and asking me to take cuttings of whichever variety took their fancy. Word went round like quick fire and I could not cope with the response.
One day a lovely man called Fred Gower, who was on his way to give a talk to fuchsia folk and had heard about me, visited me. Fred turned out to be one of the foremost exhibitors in the fuchsia world; a world, which I did not even know existed. I scraped together a dish of blooms for his talk and he showed me some plants that he was taking along to demonstrate to people the way to pinch out and shape fuchsias. Well, I did not even know you shaped them, I just pinched off the cutting and stuck it in a pot and let it grow.
The following week Fred turned up with another lovely man called Bill Gilbert and his friend Jack Siverns. Bill was also in the forefront of fuchsia exhibiting and breeding. These three men spent hours with me giving up their hard-earned knowledge freely and generously without patronization. They became very good friends and I miss them dearly as they have now all gone but I still feel them looking over my shoulder telling me to straighten that pot, remove that leaf and label, label, label. I soaked up this information and have tried to pass it on to anyone who wanted to listen and sometimes to those who did not but were too kind to tell me to shut up. The thought of a fuchsia living without being cared for by someone who at least knew the basics became abhorrent to me. So to all those that I bored with my knowledge I apologise, after all some of them just wanted a pretty basket plant and not a lecture.
The following year we built a large 25ft. greenhouse and I stood back and thought now I have all the space in the world. Unfortunately, as anyone bitten by the fuchsia bug will tell you the one thing you never have enough of is space. Customers, parent stock and cuttings for sale, plus me and my workbench and the occasional cat or dog all squeezed into one 25ft. greenhouse and very cosy it was too.
On occasions, rather too cosy when one person walked off with another customers carefully chosen treasures right from under his nose and I became an artist in soothing people. This stood me in good stead for nearly twenty years every time I had to say I am sorry we are sold out of that variety at the moment only to be told. Oh no, I came twenty/thirty/forty miles especially for that one variety.
The following year another greenhouse was erected and the year after yet another larger one replacing the small 8 x 6 original. We began to type lists of our stock and then to send out lists to customers. We supplied coffee and tea and encouraged people to spend as long as they wished browsing and choosing their plants. Often I could hear people chatting and laughing and exchanging information as I worked at my bench and this gave me a very nice feeling. My horse was well fed, and all was well with the world.
This status quo existed for the next fifteen years and except for the odd occasion when I came across the odd difficult individual, or found plants destroyed by people borrowing cuttings I enjoyed every minute and made many, many friends.
Every year I trolled through other nursery lists and could not wait to get my hands on anything new and exciting. To this day, the excitement is still with me and I get the same feeling when I get hold of a new cultivar.
However, three years ago I realized that there was more to life than working seven days a week when I lost my wonderful father and lovely horse in a very short space of time. I was left with a dilemma as I did not want to give up all together but opening part time did not seem to be a good option. Therefore, we opted for postal plants only, so I am now free to come and go when I want but I still have my beloved fuchsias, which now seem like old friends. Several older varieties I have tried to give up year after year but somehow they creep back into the catalogue, are: Royal Purple, Ting-a-ling, Royal Velvet, Snow Cap, Tennessee Waltz. All show stoppers in their day, they are still worth having in any collection.
We have been lucky to have a wonderful hybridizer in Gordon Reynolds, who releases his fuchsias through our nursery and every year I look forward to seeing what he has sent us. This year we have My Little Cracker (see photo) and Sir Jack (see photo) the latter named after the Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club Chairman. Both have been popular and I look forward to all these wonderful babies spreading their wings throughout the fuchsia shows and earning recognition for the exhibitor and the hybridizer.
Oh, and in case you are wondering what happened to John. Well, he took
up Lawn Green Bowls instead and rather left me to it.
Blackwell Fuchsia Nursery,
Warwickshire, UK CV364PE.
|My Little Cracker||
Winter Annuals: Chris Scrase.
Working in a retail Fuchsia nursery gives me a good chance to speak to people and discuss with them the successes and failures they are having with their fuchsia growing. One of the most common complaints I hear is, I cant grow Fuchsias in summer. Its too hot! Over the last few years we have promoted the idea of trim pruning in summer to decrease the size of the plant and maintain healthy growth for a great autumn and winter flowering. In South Australia, our autumn, winter and springs are quite mild and are an ideal time to get the best flowers on your fuchsias.
Many people are having excellent results with the summer pruning and now we have taken a further step. Fuchsias can be grown successfully as autumn and winter annuals. I can hear serious Fuchsias growers groaning but many people do not have a position to grow Fuchsias all year successfully but have somewhere to hang a basket or two in plenty of light through the cooler months of the year.
We have available in autumn, 6-packs of fuchsias which flower extremely well throughout the cooler months. The advantage of growing Fuchsias as winter annuals is that you do not need a really large container. A 250mm plastic basket is an ideal size. Only one feeding of a controlled release fertiliser is necessary, no pruning is required, a lot less water is needed and the flowers are huge and last on the plant for ages. There are also fewer problems with pest infestations during the cooler months.
The 6-packs are available from mid March and will generally be in flower within 4 to 6 weeks of potting on. The fuchsias are all large flowered plants and there are six different ones in each pack. I potted up 6 baskets and hung them under my pergola at home. I find that I cannot grow Fuchsias under the pergola in the summer as it is covered with poly carbonate sheeting and is enclosed on three sides. It can get very hot in here up to mid 40°Cs at times. However through the cooler months, the fuchsias did really well, flowering into November and early December. I only need to water them once or twice a week. In fact, when we were away for three weeks in July that year, I think that they only got one watering!
Many people feel that it is such a waste to discard a Fuchsia after only 8 9 months of flowering but for many people it is a way to grow and enjoy Fuchsias without the disappointment that can come during the long hot South Australian summers. Try it and see how beautiful Fuchsias can be in our mild Autumn and Winters. Have fun!
A letter from Ron & Joyce Harley (Vic).
We look forward to reading your articles in the journal and find that there is always something you dont know. I have been growing these things for seventy years now and am still learning. I find in your article that fuchsia Ethel Kempster is fairly hard to find. I have four or five plants plus one or more in the ground. It is a beautiful flower though the bush can be a trifle untidy. I picked up a plant a few years ago when we were over there.
weather has not been quite as kind this year on the plants because of the dry
conditions but I dont expect you can have ideal weather every season.
John I am enclosing a couple of photos for you to have a look at, it might help
to brighten up your day. I do hope you can read my writing because we dont
have a computer or any of those luxuries. This is plus the fact that I dont
write many letters either.
Well John I hope that by the time you get this note you will be feeling a little better. Keep up the good work John, we need you. Sorry we are not a bit closer so that we could attend your meetings. All the best John and take care
Ron & Joyce Harley.
Ed. First, Ron and Joyce, let me thank you for your kind thoughts and wishes. It is heartwarming to receive letters from our interstate members and your long association with our favourite flower and your beautiful plants are an inspiration to us all.
Ed.The photos show that your fuchsias are nothing short of breathtaking and are a credit to you both!
'Thalia Again': Eleanor Handreck.
This is the third episode of the very protracted story of my potted Thalia. (Thalia is an old triphylla-type fuchsia cultivar with deep orange tubular flowers.) The first episode of the story appeared in the April 1995 issue of our Journal. In that story, I described how I had slowly managed to nurse my Thalia back to health after it had been badly damaged on one particularly difficult day during the very hot 1993-94 summer.
What I saw the next morning was a plant that was badly wilted, even though the mix was wet. Some damage, I suspected, had been done to the plants root system. I managed to slowly bring the plant back to health by watering it only when the mix at the bottom of the pot was dry. That meant that, even for the rest of that hot summer, the plant was watered only about once a week.
That year, I pruned all of my fuchsias - including the Thalia - in the first week of July (early for me). As the following spring began, and my pruned plants came back into leaf, I could see that my Thalia was again in good health.
In a later Journal ( April, 2000), I wrote briefly of a child of that potted Thalia. In the mid-to-late 1990s - Im not sure exactly when - I had to replace a garden-grown Thalia that had, for reasons unknown, gone to fuchsia heaven. My potted Thalia was the source of the cutting.
My Thalia-in-a-pot continued to go through the annual round of pruning and flowering, pruning and flowering. It sat on the top shelf of my pot-plant stand, so it was about a metre or so above the ground. It sat there through many summer gully winds and winter storms.
A year or so ago, I brought my Thalia to one of our monthly meetings.
By that time, the plant was at least twelve years old. It had been pruned hard
every year, but it had never been repotted. It wasnt the most handsome
Thalia in the world, but it was full of colour.
Then, in early January this year, something happened to my plant. For some reason, my beloved Thalia fell from its metre-high shelf and down onto the ground. Whether it was blown down by an exceptionally nasty wind, or it was knocked down by frolicking possums, I will never know.
My plant lost at least half of its branches in the fall. Now it is a really ugly shape! But it is still flowering!
My plans for its future are to try, by pruning, to improve its shape. That could take several years. Contrary to my usual practice, I will have to pinch my Thalia once it starts to shoot out after being pruned.
Just in case that doesnt work, I plan to take a cutting or two and start another plant. That too could require patience, as it is always difficult to find good-quality, bud-free cuttings on Thalia. The jolly plant just never stops flowering! And that, of course, is one of the reasons why I love Thalia.
Eleanor Handreck, Netherby SA.
We hope you have enjoyed this unformatted extract from the April 2004 journal. Why not join us and receive the quarterly issue of our 16 page booklet (in B&W).