One idea I've decided will happen is to have a fuchsia hedge across one of my quarter plots to divide it into two areas. The fuchsia produces an edible berry which is good for making jam as well as the other ideas found in Mark's book. He suggests that F. 'Riccartonii' is a good fruiting cultivar, but examination of the 2 bushes of this variety in my garden have revealed very little in the way of actual fruit.
A much better bet in my case is the pictured F. 'Genii', whose berries are much larger and surprisingly tasty. This also gets me over a dilemma because I've realised it clashes horribly with the rest of my planting (or any other combination I care to think of) even though I like it as a plant in its own right. So transferal next spring to a useful working life on the allotment saves face all round :)
I also need more than one fuchsia bush to get a useful crop of fruit. I had just enough time at the weekend to take some last minute cuttings ready before more frost hit on Sunday night...
I selected a healthy shoot (with no sign of capsid bug damage) and cut it off at around the 9 inch mark. This gave me enough material for several cuttings: a tip cutting from the top and several internodal cuttings (i.e. taken between leaves and having a set of leaves in the actual cutting) from down the stem. All flower buds were removed: this isn't ideal as cuttings taken from shoots without flowers usually root more readily, but this late in the season I couldn't find any. The larger leaves were cut in half so that the cuttings wouldn't get stressed from excessive water loss.
Here's the cuttings in their pot: I've used a small pot because I don't have a proper propagator, unlike the person who has written and photographed this step by step guide to taking fuchsia cuttings. This kind of pot works well instead with a cosy cover made from recycling one of the clear plastic bags our mail comes in, secured in place with a red elastic band Skimble 'rescued' from the postman.
A potful of compost can take several cuttings at once and you can see I've put the tip cutting in the middle of the pot. With a little misted water they're ready to work their magic over the winter. I've used some cut down pea sticks in the compost to prevent the plastic bag touching the plant material. Once the cuttings have rooted, they should be watered from below to prevent botrytis.
Note that I don't use hormone rooting powder, nor any of the alternative compost materials such as perlite for my cuttings. I haven't had problems with this in the past and it does help to keep costs (and storage space) down. I'm right on the edge by taking these cuttings so late in the season, but I didn't have the idea of having a fuchsia hedge back in the spring or summer. You may of course decide to do things differently to me :)
I'm keeping the pots indoors so I can keep a beady eye on how they're doing and to ensure they're in a place with good light over the winter. I don't have a greenhouse and I'm not sure whether my cold frame would be the best of places for them, especially if it gets really cold like it did last winter. I've taken 15 cuttings in total: much more than I actually need to make a 10ft wide hedge, but I've taken a few extra as insurance. Come the spring those cuttings which have taken will be potted up into individual pots and hardened off in my coldframe prior to planting out on the plot.
And if they don't take, I can try again in the spring...