In the Footsteps of the Plant Hunters: Fuchsias Part II

Kristopher Harper with his display of National Plant Collection of fuchsia cultivars introduced by James Lye

I had a great time at Hampton Court Flower Show yesterday, particularly as I finally had the chance to meet Kristopher Harper in my favourite spot in the show, the Plant Heritage section of the Floral Marquee.

I first wrote about Kristopher's search for some of James Lye's missing fuchsia cultivars - 'Nellie' and 'James Welch' three years ago. His quest particularly interests me as these cultivars hail from Wiltshire and it's always good to hear about horticultural excellence from my home county. My original post has quite a lot of the background detail, so how has Kristopher fared in the meantime?

Sadly his quest still continues and has expanded with various leads presenting themselves for further exploration, even as I was speaking to him. It's obvious that Kristopher relishes this painstaking work and is quietly amassing enough material to write a monograph, even if his search for missing cultivars to add to his collection hasn't been as fruitful.

It was great to see some of the cultivars in his collection at last. I'm drawn to the more elegant forms of fuchsia, and as you can see from the above photo, James Lye specialised in these too. Their delicate looks belies the fact he was reknowned for displaying fuchsias in the style of pyramids, reported to have been 9 or 10 feet tall.

You may have spotted there's an exception to the rule in the display, in the form of F. 'Charming' at the bottom left of the picture. Kristopher believes Lye may have used this cultivar to help introduce some of the more robust characteristics he was looking for in his breeding work.

We had a fascinating chat and I wish Kristopher well with his ongoing quest. If you think you can help in any way, he can be contacted via his webpage, or Facebook,  or Twitter.


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