Fuchias in the City
The Garden in 2011
The Urban Fuchsia at Hortulus Fuchsiarum. With other shady garden types, too.

That's it for 2011, folks. A lot happened last year, what with record heat waves and invasions of hoary caterpillars and hurricanes and freakish October snow storm surprises so the slides may take a moment to load if you're visiting for the first time. Sorry. Gardens are supposed to quiet and relaxing but life was just too exciting at Fuchsias in the City last year, I guess. Back to the Garden in 2012.
  • Welcome to Hortulus Fuchsiarum,
    the little urban garden of Fuchsias in the City.
  • 2010 closed with the Great Blizzard of the Feast of Stephen.
    But our city snow usually never seems to last for very long.
  • A couple of days into the New Year, the weather warms up
    and the snow drifts have receded like the tide.
  • Meanwhile, back inside, the tent around the winter
    "greenhouse” keeps the warmth in and the landscape green.
  • The plants are doing well under my plant light fixture with six T-5 bulbs.
    It’s on a timer for regular cycles of day and dark.
  • The late-Fall cuttings I took are in greenhouse baggies.
    They’re showing some new growth so rooting is coming along nicely.
  • Last summer’s ‘Ry’s’ has started putting out lots of its elegant flowers again.
    A small plant, it's well-suited for culture under plant lights.
  • ‘Black Cherry’ is another small, tight cultivar that seems to like
    blooming under the lights. It has beautiful black petals.
  • Uh oh. Some aphids are on its tips and buds.
    Insects can be a nuisance inside so I check often for any appearances.
  • They’re easily controlled, though, by spraying with a low-impact
    mix of isopropanol and shredded ivory soap dissolved in water.
  • Outside, the Fuchsia regia hangs blasted by the cold.
    No insects out here to bother it in its sorry winter state, though.
  • The snows continue to come and go. But this year,
    when they come, they really do come with a vengeance.
  • Would you believe twenty-eight inches worth of vengeance for this one storm?
  • Pretty magical, though, the way it left such
    delicate traceries of white along the branches.
  • Finally the days get longer and the snows recede for good. . .
  • . . .as warming sunshine takes away the winter cold bit by bit.
  • In Central Park the late-winter Witch Hazel extends the cheerful rays of its blooms. . .
  • . . .and in the garden the Coral Bark Maple extends bright filaments of its own.
  • Last summer's annuals are replaced by a cold-tolerent spring display of
    pansies and daffodils. Come summer, these pots will be filled with annuals again.
  • Of course, it's also time to take the wraps off the fountain and finally
    pull back the protective covers of pine straw that were laid on last Fall.
  • Lots of pulling back, in fact, even in this small garden.
    But eventually the hard work does all get done. . .
  • . . .and the garden finally reveals itself ready to go for another season.
  • 'Porphyrio' barely died back this winter. All the more amazing since I recorded
    the lowest temperature I can ever remember here this past winter at 8 F (-13 C).
  • The golden buds on F. magellanica 'Aurea' are breaking out, too. Oops. There's another slug.
    They don't touch the fuchsia shoots but do eat other things. Where are my snips?
  • This magellanica hybrid from the former Bedlam Gardens in the Fingers Lakes
    got no protection except snow. It seems as hardy here as it was there.
  • The warming sunshine seems to bring smiles to the faces of all the garden's inhabitants.
  • Finally found 'Windcliff Flurry' at a nursery in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey.
    Unfortunately they left it uncovered so it got socked by some frost. It's recovering though.
  • Since the winter clean-up is almost done and the frosts and freezes are
    pretty much over by mid-march, time to start bringing the indoor refugees out.
  • The old plants are pruned back and taken out of their pots
    Most of the old soil will be knocked off and replaced with fresh.
  • Last year's pots get cleaned out and inspected.
    There are a few that have cracked beyond use so they'll be replaced.
  • Eventually, they're all lined up like eager
    soldiers awaiting their orders and ready to go.
  • Pots, compost and trowel and I'm ready to go, too.
  • My own cuttings which were rooted indoors under lights are augmented
    by new starts ordered from suppliers in California and the Pacific Northwest.
  • Some larger plants regain their posts along the top of the fence.
    Here's 'Dying Embers' back on duty, Sir.
  • That 'Windcliff Flurry' has really taken off from it brush with frost at the nursery.
    We'll take a look at it again later in the season.
  • Eventually most of the work is done for now and I can finally sit back
    and enjoy a bit of the sunshine, too. Why should the plants have all the fun?
  • As the weather continues to warm, the plants start to fill in.
  • This year I'm putting together my own hanging baskets instead of buying any. The cost of baskets is getting out of hand, anyway, and the selection is well grown, but always limited.
  • Since the garden is small, I'm repeating the same fuchsia in the window
    boxes and in the other annual planters I've set around the garden.
  • The featured cultivar this year at Hortulus Fuchsiarum is 'Samba.'
    It's a nice compact, free-flowering upright.
  • 'Angel Earrings' has been planted out. Hopefully Turtle doesn't find it too tasty.
    It's been reliably winter hardy in the garden here with just minimal protection.
  • The larger pots long the fence are getting a mix of uprights and trailers.
  • A double Impatiens called 'Apple Blosson' and a tuberous Begonia
    called 'Million Kisses Elegance' share the planters with variegated ivies.
  • F. x colensoi is really taking off at the top of the fence.
    It seems to relish growing in this spot every year.
  • F. denticulata is suddenly showing up in local nurseries billed as 'Flamingo Fever.'
    Geesh. Big agro-business can't ever seem to help itself with these fancy names.
  • The plants are all growing up nicely in their pots. . .
  • . . .and the garden has filled in as we head through May into June.
  • Overhead, the trees filter the light as
    the sun gently falls across Hortulus Fuchsiarum.
  • All's looking peaceful and green, if I have to say so myself. Ha ha.
    Time to sit, relax and enjoy the peace for a bit myself.
  • 'Mrs. R. O. Backhouse' might be known to many gardeners as a beautiful martagon lily hybrid. She's also a pink-trumpeted daffodil, as well as a fuchsia. The old girl, it seems, got around.
  • The flamingos are back to brighten up that dark corner with their cheerful diplay.
  • In a brighter spot, though, the potted Clematis 'Little Duckling'
    is a little more subdued in it's diplay of paler pink.
  • Early morning sunshine at the beginning of June
    falls across the windowbox at the front of the garden.
  • The plants are all happy and loving the weather.
    Heck, it's infectuous. I'm feeling all happy and loving the weather, too.
  • The upright-trailer combos I set in larger pots along the fence are coming along nicely.
  • F. hatschbachii, that Brazilian native, has already gotten up to
    about eight inches from it's winter slumber under ground.
  • Towards the end of the month, the garden's most loyal defenders have hatched.
    They emerge VERY hungry and are eagerly awating their first meals.
  • A month later, one's a couple of inches long but there's a garden menace
    approaching that even the hungriest praying mantises can't handle.
  • They're here! Happens every year: The Invasion of the Hoary Caterpillars.
    Sigh. It was the worst invasion ever this year. EVER!
  • Argh! At the end of July things were really, REALLY bad for a couple of weeks.
    A relentless march of hundreds. No exageration.
  • The only thing that seemed to keep them somewhat at bay was continuous plucking
    and sprays of Thuricide every few days. It was very hard not to get too depressed.
  • Their numbers were at a major peak this year. They were crawling across the fence and literally falling from the trees. With a particular taste for fuchsias. Eventually they went away. Yeah!
  • But then, by the middle of July, the weather was unfortunately getting quite a
    bit hotter. Fuchsias stop actively transpiring in the 80"s so growth has slowed down.
  • Frequent misting of the leaves and surrounding
    areas helps keep them comfortable in hotter weather.
  • The garden faces north and has high shade so it's generally protected from the sun during the hottest part of the day. A little makes an appearance towards the brick wall at the back, though.
  • With my light conditions, the emphasis is on shade loving plants. A collection of hostas,
    in pots and in the ground, provides much additional interest with their variegated foliage.
  • F. regia ssp. reitzii has shot right up over the last month.
    Some staking keeps it more upright than scrambling.
  • That F. hatschbachii is also really taking off.
    The Brazilian fuchsias can endure heat a lot better than many others.
  • Unfortunatey, F. procumbens, native to New Zealand, seems to be struggling.
    This year, it's not growing as vigorously as it usually does.
  • 'Burning Embers' is a terrific flowerer, even in the summer heat.
  • Another natural fuchsia hybrid from New Zealand, F. x colensoi, never
    seems to be as affected by summer heat as is my flagging F. procumbens.
  • Here's F. perscandens x colensoi, which is new to the garden this year.
    It's from Frye Road Nursery near Portland in Oregon State.
  • July 21 saw the hottest weather yet this year. In fact, the hottest ever.
    Newark, New Jersey was said to have hit a record 108 F. That's 42 C!
  • It also reached a record 104 F (40 C) at the official
    US weather station at Belvedere Castle in Central Park.
  • In the garden here, despite the advantage of facing north and shade from
    high trees, the thermometer hit 103 F, or just over 39 C. A record for me, too.
  • By the next day, it had cooled down to a mere 102 F (about 39 C)
    over the plants. It was almost unbearable but we did our best.
  • Frequent misting helped get us all through the heat.
  • You can see from the thermometer how effective evaporative cooling can be.
    Within minutes the temperature fell from 102 F to 90 F.
  • A few plants did suffer. 'Flamingo Fever' became too feverish and lost its leaves.
    They sprouted back later when cooler weather prevailed.
  • Some others just gave up the ghost and shriveled in the sun.
    Mostly they were new transplants that didn't have a strong root system yet.
  • At one point I rescued this 'Mme Cornelissen', abused at a nursery, and planted it out.
    It can be hardy here, with protection, but it eventually failed. Bummer.
  • My little F. procumbens finally passed away in the middle of August after almost
    twelve years. RIP. I'll plant a new one next spring in its memory.
  • I had expected the magellanica hybrids to suffer a little more from the heat
    wave than they did. They're more heat sensitive so this was a pleasant surprise.
  • OK, I'm cheating. I admit I posed this one. But hummingbirds do visit this urban garden every now and again. That they can find their way to Fuchsias in the Ciy at all is quite amazing.
  • 'Little Duckling's put on a second display with its attractive seed heads.
    They look really wild. Maybe the 'Little Duckling' had some clue what was now heading our way!
  • The plant holders are empty because I've had to secure all the plants to the ground.
    Major hurricane Irene is now heading up the coast and aiming straight at the City.
  • I've wedged many pots behind the low concrete wall
    where they'll hopefully be sheltered from any strong winds.
  • Anything that was up high is now down low.
    We're expected to take a direct hit from Irene over Saturday night.
  • I've protectfully arrayed all the plants. Everyone in the area is battening down the hatches. Luckily, I face north behind a solidly built brick building and Irene will approach from the south.
  • A lot of other garden things are turned over to keep them from possibly blowing over.
  • More plants are set on the ground in preparation for the approaching storm.
  • I'll flip the garden table over next and lay down the chairs.
    They're mesh-like so the wind should pass easily through them.
  • The boards will be set down on the ground. You can see how I constructed the steps
    with simple boards and half cinder blocks. Pot storage is cleverly hidden underneath.
  • The pots that were sitting on the plant shelves are now lined up along the path.
    They're wedged up againt the edging to hopefully keep them sitting stable.
  • The wind howled all night and it rained hard. It was scary but Irene
    pulled her punch and didn't hit the City as hard as she could have.
  • By later on Sunday, Irene has passed well to the north where there was unfortunately major destruction from flooding. Here, I was already able to start putting things back in order.
  • Everything's now back in place and we're lucky that we missed the full brunt of nature's fury here. But this is still not an experience I want to repeat. It could have been much worse.
  • By Monday, the sun was shining again. But that odd looking bush
    on the sidewalk isn't actually a bush at all if you look closely.
  • Irene still blew down a few trees throughout the City.
    A close scrape, this one luckily seems to have mostly missed that car.
  • Things certainly settled down in September as the summer started to shift
    ever so slowly into fall. It was actually a very slow shift this year, in fact.
  • It's a testimony to the stamina of 'Burning Embers' that it's still looking this
    good in the middle of September, even after all it had been through over the summer.
  • And F. hatschbachii was flowering as if it
    hadn't noticed any of the past summer's excesses either
  • It takes equally well to culture in a hanging pot.
    There are several plants in this pot to help fill it out.
  • F. hatschbacii's flowers are very elegant and it's
    one of my favorite species, if not fuchias.
  • It's been a very mild Fall (the first frost actually didn't happen until the middle
    of December) but at some point there are definate signs that change's in the air.
  • I set these mums out with their pots hidden by other plants.
    That way I can easily remove them when their flowers pass away.
  • Drying seed heads on the shade-tolerant
    wild wood oats are another harbinger of the Fall.
  • The orchid-like amtheyst flowers of the toad lilies brighten the
    dimming garden by unfolding at a time of year when little else blossoms.
  • One brilliant fall "flower" is not a flower at all. The seed pods of
    Paeonia obovata open to display jet black seeds on a scarlet lining.
  • I've got a thing for fancy golden rod cultivars but don't have enough direct sun to
    support them. Until I discovered the shade-tolerant blue-stemmed goldenrod. Happiness.
  • As the leaves drop in the Fall, a number of fuchsias seem to be going deciduous, too.
    Usually they stay green longer but it's probably a reaction to the past summer's stresses.
  • The ones in smaller pots have especially been loosing leaves.
    Though it might have been due to fuchsia rust but I don't see any evidence of that.
  • Here's the F. procumbens x colensoi also loosing some Fall leaves.
    I'll additionally reduce watering to force it semi-dormant for overwintering inside.
  • A beautiful early morning sunrise over the garden. This one, in mid-October, was just simple beauty, though. No "Red skies in the morning. Sailors take warning" kind of stuff.
  • However. . . a few days before Halloween brought an unually early freak snowstorm
    to the Northeast. Here in the City, it was mostly cold rain that turned into a snowy slurry.
  • Heavy, wet snow was collecting on trees still in full leaf and I had good reason to be afraid of damage from the etiolated and neglected silver maples protruding overhead from the neighbors.
  • Branches did indeed come crashing down. Luckily just on the concrete next door.
    Though an even larger limb took out the middle of the patio hidden behind the green fence.
  • We were originally scheduled for just rain in the City,
    but that unexpectedly changed to a bit of heavy wet snow.
  • In spite of appearances, however, temperatures
    in the garden didn't didn't even fall below 35 F (2 C).
  • Many fuchsias are hardy enough to take a couple of degrees of frost. Again, that 'Burning Embers' is indefatiguable. Of course, more tender fuchsias were brought under shelter.
  • However, the tender annuals like this impatiens took the brush with the wintery
    slush a lot, lot harder. I don't suppose it's time to rip them out?
  • The attractive 'Limon Blush' coleus in the window box was also hit hard.
    I had wanted to take a few cuttings for next year but I procrastinated and lost.
  • By the beginning weeks of November the leaves were finally giving up and falling.
    I'll sweep them from the path but let them cover the beds until Spring as winter mulch.
  • Plants in their pots soon follow suit with those in the ground.
    Some hostas color earlier than others.
  • Don't just look overhead for Fall color. Some hostas make a Fall display
    as lovely as tree leaves as they change from green to buttery yellow to brown.
  • It's Fall in the birdbath as well, for a "Still Life with Bird and Leaves."
  • Acer pseudosieboldianum is a super-hardy close relative of the Japanese maple
    and will easily overwinter in its 18" pot here. It puts on a gentle display of gold in the Fall.
  • Little by little the plants pull back as November progresses.
  • Overhead the tree branches continue to shed their leaves.
    This year, it seems, their fall was later and slower than usual.
  • Sometimes I don't even rake them up right away. More'll quickly fall to
    replace these so I might as well enjoy the display on the ground for a spelll.
  • Oddly, Fuchsia 'Porphyrio' has gone totally deciduous. I have it in two locations, at opposite ends of the garden, and both plants shed their leaves at the same time. Maybe lack of a freeze?
  • The cooler weather hasn't deterred these hardy cyclamen as they're Fall bloomig. Note
    to self, "Get more for 2012!" Plant Delights Nursery has some really cool ones in their catalog.
  • 'Fan Dancer' is another fuchsia that doesn't let the shorter days of autumn stop it.
  • The mums are almost gone now. I'll easily pull them out
    because I just nestled them into the garden in their pots.
  • This small Lion's Mane Japanese Maple turns color later that others. It's worth
    waiting for because of the lovely orange and gold tones of its crinkled leaves.
  • Finally time to drain and winterize the recirculating fountain.
    It's been nice listening to the sound of water, especially in that summer heat.
  • It gets covered so that winter snow and ice don't freeze inside.
  • No, this isn't garden trash waiting to be hauled off.
    It's actually winter mulch waiting to be useful.
  • Inside is pine "straw" collected from a friend's trees in the country.
    It makes for great winter protection around plants as it doesn't pack down easily.
  • I use it liberally around many of the fuchsias.
    They appeciate sleeping through the winter under pine straw duvets.
  • Here two magellanica hybrids, 'Grandma's' and the classic 'Riccartonii,'
    are tucked away under their comfy pine needle blankets.
  • My potted Cedrus libanii 'Snow Sprite' is heeled in, pot and all, in the corner for the winter. It gets some pine needles mulch for additional protection, too.
  • The plants in these large pots are perfectly hardy and can overwinter outside with ease here.
  • However, I like to give them a top layer of needles as it makes the pots look a lot better.
    Also buffers the soil from heaving too much.
  • It's taken a while, but the last bag has almost been spread. There's actually more in the bags than it seems because you can push the air out when filling to get more needles in.
  • Finally, all is in place. I'll usually wait for an actual freeze to be forcast so I laid it on later than usual this year. Actually no freeze here until the 2nd week of December.
  • 26 F (-3.3 C) low finally scorched the leaves of the F. regia.
    Even then, some shoots of this toughie made it through the freeze.
  • F. hatschbachii has similarly survived the freeze.
    Both these Brazilians are hardier that most people might suspect given their homeland.
  • Sadly, I've also been forced by the freeze to deal with the potted fuchsias. It's a good time to go through the lot and cull the poor performers from the good, though.
  • Even after that first freeze, the weather has stayed milder than usual.
    The remaining plants can stay outside until winter decides what to do.
  • Overwintering plants will stay in the window inside the apartment. Watering is minimal are the trick with fuchsias is to keep them as semi-dormant as possible.
  • Ideally, they should rest at about 35 to 45 F (2 to 7 C). Since I'm a bit warmer than that inside I have to keep a closer eye on watering.
  • Some pots are stored on a rack by the back door. They also need to be carefully
    monitored for water. Even then, I always lose a few so I take cuttings of favorites.
  • Here's the winter greenhouse. Plants grow under a fixture of six T-5 bulbs set on trays for humidity. For addtional athmosphere, cuttings root with plastic bags over the pots.
  • Back outside in the garden, the deciduous plants have shed the last of their leaves. The Texas Holy Rock, previously partially hidden under a Stephanandra, now lies exposed.
  • It's Christmas Eve and the potted Tsuga canadensis 'Gentsch White' glows in the twilight.
    Happy Christmas and Peace to All.
  • A couple of days past Christmas and the blackbird sits on the birdbath
    reflecting on the coming winter. When up from the rooftops there arose such a clatter…
  • Literally. That's not a squirrel high in that tree.
    It's a workman on a rope with a chainsaw.
  • For some reason the neighbors have choosen this week between the years to
    finally deal with their neglected silver maples. Not that I'm really complaining.
  • There's little room to let the pruned branches fall on their own without damaging yards, so they're being slowly lowered by rope into the neighbor's yard to be further reduced.
  • That dangerously overhanging branch is almost gone. Good riddance.
    It's been worrisome for quite awhile and I'm glad it's finally being dealt with.
  • In spite of there being a number of dead branches in the silver maple tree,
    I'm relieved that few fell out during removal to do any damage in the garden.
  • Almost done. They'll move over to the next tree and remove it entirely. It was mishappen and had a lot of dead wood. Wasn't over my head but I'm still glad to see the danger go.
  • The pruning work is finished. Etiolated branches no longer stretch way overhead. By the way, that "ladder" is a remnant of old NY. It was for pulling clotheslines to apartment windows.
  • It feels a little naked looking north, even with no leaves, but it's more open
    now. And safer. A quick comparison to summer shows the extent of the maintenance.
  • Since the branches on the F. regia are still undamaged under the bark, I thought I'd take the opportunity to do some late-season stem cuttings before the real cold kills them back entirely.
  • Here are the several branches cut from the plant.
    That should supply more than enough good rooting material.
  • I removed the side branches and little twigs to reduce them to straight sticks.
  • Next, they were cut into pieces about the lenghth of a pencil or so.
    I left a node close to the bottom of each cutting as fuchsias root best from their nodes.
  • The "pencils" were stuck into a deep pot filled with good rooting compost.
    Some people like to dip the ends in rooting powder with a fungicide.
  • A gallon plastic bag was pulled over the top.
    It'll help keep the cutting environment humid as the "pencils" strike roots.
  • Finally I set the bagged pot under the lights in my winter "greenhouse."
    We'll take stock of their progress next year. See you then.
  • That's it for 2011, folks. Happy New Year!
    May your gardens blossom & fruit well in the coming year.