Another daft thing to do!

Last autumn I posted about standard fuchsias and the growing of the main stem to get the height before you pinch out the growing tip to develop the bushy head from which the flowers will hang. I was growing three cuttings of ‘Checkerboard’, a particularly upright cultivar that I like a lot for its narrow flowers in red and white. Most fuchsia stems (except the appropriately named Triphylla kinds) have opposite leaves but some shoots on most fuchsias will have leaves in threes rather than pairs. These are especially good for growing standards because 1) they are very vigorous and 2) they are better for creating a bushy head because at each node your get three, not two, shoots. You can see the old post with the link below.

I decided to treat the three differently and pinch out the tips at different heights so I had a trio of plants that matched. Why? I am not sure but it was just an interesting project. I am pleased to say that they did well and, although in small pots, I fed them and got the height I wanted. But I got a bit carried away with growing the tallest one as tall as I could manage. Having now potted it to give it some extra vigour so that I can build up the head I have a problem! It is tied to an 2.4m (8ft) cane and it was really tricky to pot it without pushing the cane through the top of the poly tunnel and I do not have room to grow the head! So maybe I will have to dig a hole in the floor to give me more room. It is not without precedent – after all, at Kew, when the Chilean wine palm in the Temperate House got too tall they dug round it and moved it to a lower spot in the planting to give it more headroom!

On a more positive note, despite not being able to get timber to make the raised beds I cobbled some together with timber left over from doing the house and so they are done down the main length of the tunnel and the tomatoes are in. Not complete yet but almost there. The beds, and thus the tomatoes, are positioned below the crop bars so I can tie twine to these and the base of the plants to support the toms by twining them around it as they grow. It is a quick and efficient way to support them.

At the front of them are peppers. I was pleased to get some seeds of padron peppers and had six seedlings to plant. Padron peppers are small, mild peppers that are eaten green. They are blistered in a hot pan and then have olive oil and salt flakes added and are a bitter but delicious tapas. I always look for them when on holiday in the Canaries but have never grown them before. But something is thwarting my attempt and (I suspect) a cutworm is making its way along the row and has felled two of the plants, just above ground level. I searched for it with no luck. If I lose a third then the plants are being dug up and potted till they get bigger.


Growing standard fuchsias




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3 Comments on “Another daft thing to do!”

  1. tonytomeo
    May 3, 2020 at 6:34 pm #

    Various heights is easier than trying to get them all to match. I am always impressed by conformity; and can not help but wonder how many were grown to get those that match.

    • thebikinggardener
      May 4, 2020 at 7:53 am #

      Yes, uniformity is the key! I do some flower show judging and uniformity is important in flower and veg classes.

      • tonytomeo
        May 4, 2020 at 5:51 pm #

        By the time I studied horticulture in school, uniformity had been passe for two decades. (I did not study landscape design, but went to school with those who did.) It still annoys me to see old buildings that deserve more symmetrical landscapes, but are instead outfitted with ‘casual’ informal landscapes. It is less of an appropriate style, and more the result of the laziness of landscape designers. Suddenly, in the 1990s, those ridiculous ‘orchard’ groves were a fad. It was insulting to see the fad in the Santa Clara Valley before it got to the Los Angeles region, because the area had formerly been famous for real orchards. After a few years, trees that died out were replaced with cultivars that did not match, which looks even more ridiculous! There is a park in Sunnyvale that was outfitted with an ‘orchard’ of golden honeylocusts. A few died immediately, and were replaced with common green honeylocusts that grew bigger, and will eventually shade out the adjacent trees because they are too close together. (The spacing is for smaller trees.) Those that died later were replaced with those wimpy bronzed honeylocust (perhaps ‘Ruby Lace’) because they happened to be a fad at the time, but they are still wimpy, and will soon be crowded out. The park happens to be one of those situation where a casual informal landscape would have been very appropriate.

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