The fuchsia plants I bought from Other Fellow Fuchsias are all romping along. They were little more than rooted cuttings when they arrived, and I have been trying to be careful with the watering, conscious that it's easy to over-water something that small when giving its bigger neighbours on the greenhouse a drenching, and equally easy to let the pots dry out. A couple went out to join the display by the front door today, and I'd have moved all of them into their initial terracotta display pots, except that I ran out of pots,
At Tuesday's talk I met somebody from a fuchsia society, so took the opportunity to ask him why some of my small collection had stopped flowering prematurely last year. The answer was depressingly obvious, which is that you must not let them set fruit. The hardy types I started off growing in the open ground and which kept on flowering through autumn pretty much to the first frost quietly shed their spent flowers without ever berrying, so I wasn't used to thinking of fuchsias as something you needed to deadhead. But the non-hardy, pink flowering one I got in a local garden centre last year and which ground to a halt before the season was nearly ended did set fruit, and I didn't pick them off. Lesson learned, and I should have gone back to first principles in the first place.
The first flowers on 'Katjan' are as pretty as I remember them from last year's Chelsea, dainty deep red bells with a swept back outer ring of petals. The miniature Encliandra type fuchsia I bought for the conservatory as a companion piece to the deep pink 'Lottie Hobbie' has been flowering for weeks. Last year's plants, which were looking twiggy and distinctly unpromising until very recently, have suddenly started throwing out soft new growth and covering themselves with leaves. Altogether I am quite optimistic about the fuchsias. Alas, I really must not buy any more. It is so tempting, when there are so many forms and they can be mine for only £2.25 each from Other Fellow, but I'm going to be short of greenhouse space next winter as it is.
The man from the fuchsia club said he kept his in the garage over the winter then brought them back into growth in cold frames, because he did not have a greenhouse. He insisted they were tough as old boots, and he just put a couple of extra layers of fleece over them if frost were forecast. His anxiety this year was that the mild winter had brought them into growth too early and they would peak before the fuchsia show.
The dahlia pots are mostly in their summer quarters now. As I put them away last autumn I stuck labels in the pots reminding me where they should go in the spring. Some, in coordinating shades of red, orange, dusky pink and purple, go in front of the conservatory and last year I spent ages humping the pots about once they were in bloom until I was happy with what I'd got next to what. Before dismantling the display I marked them Row 1 through to Row 7, so that I could recreated the effect without so much lifting and fiddling about next time. Then there are some purple and white ones that look nice with white and pink cosmos but don't go at all with the conservatory display, and some extraordinary huge doubles called 'Wanda's Aurora' in pink and apricot that don't go with any of the others. There are two mystery pots, one lacking any kind of label and the other merely telling me which flower bed I dug the tuber out of, which will have to stay by the greenhouse until they begin to flower and I find out what they are.