James Lye (1830-1906) achieved fame through his success in developing Fuchsia cultivars capable of being grown in large pyramids – a popular feature of Victorian gardens and exhibitions. His skill was in combining strains which flower at the end of the stem with other strains giving the stem strength. He developed more than 50 different cultivars and 33 of them are being safeguarded by Kristopher Harper in his National Plant Collection of James Lye Fuchias.
Kristopher lives only a few miles out of Norwich and we were invited to come along to view his Collection, housed in a greenhouse in his garden.
For our new CEO Sarah Quarterman, this was her first visit to a National Collection and while Mercy made friends with Thomas
and the tortoise looked on
Kristopher described his Collection to Sarah
Kristopher had allowed the plants to remain in leaf all winter, so there was plenty of material for propagation.
But in my experience this leads to problems with whitefly. Kristopher successfully uses biological controls and has no problems.
Even though it was only May, the flowers were developing and demonstrating the delicacy and characteristics of the James Lye Fuchsia.
Kristopher even uses Fuchsia as ground cover in the greenhouse, with a mix of Fuchsia procumbens and F. procumbens ‘Variegata’ which are now considered endangered in their native New Zealand.
It was impressive to see this Collection held in a small private garden yet fulfilling its remit of conserving the James Lye cultivars. Kristopher is holding an Open Day on September 7th 2014 – for more details visit his website.