The beginning of the fuchsia hybridizing.
Much has been said and written about the beginning of the Fuchsia hybridizing. Unfortunately these stories are often lost because they are either not written down, or because of the rarity of the mostly old books, in oblivion. This is also the vision of Heer Witte, author of the book "Floralia". A nice treatise on the hybridizing for 1800 where nowadays questions about the text are put.
Because what is a fact and what is fiction?
Those who know the truth can not tell us because they unfortunately died long ago.
That the first fuchsia was discovered by Charles Plummier in 1704, everyone knows, but that the first fuchsia species that was brought to Europe and that was at the beginning of the hybridizing is not generally known.
It was the F. coccinea or the "scarlet fuchsia", which was brought from Chili to England in 1788, almost simultaneously with the F. magellanica, the "Magellanic fuchsia".
And then there was confusion of the species.
In Kew Gardens there was a fuchsia written by Hr. William Aiton, curator of the Kew Gardens, the Magellan Fuchsia, F. magellanica, was mentioned. But afterwards it turned out to be the "scarlet fuchsia", the F. coccinea.
The French herbalist Lamarck later corrected this mistake.
The F. magellanica was probably brought to England by Captain Firth, who brought them to the Kew Gardens, but the
F. coccinea was the first to come on the market.
John Shepherd, curator of the botanical garden of Liverpool, gave a sample of a real hybridizers maneuver around the introduction of this fuchsia. Where Shepherd got the story is not known, but it is probably from an old English magazine.
~ The story goes like this ~
By the last of the last century, the old Hr. Lee is one of the main flower growers in the London area, so that some plants carry his name. When one of his friends visited him once, and walked with him through his greenhouses, he said:
~ You have lots of beautiful flowers, but if you had been wapping with me this morning,
would you have admired a flower there, that everything I saw in you today
surpasses beauty and grace.
~ What are you laughing? And with which florist was that?
~ It was not with a florist, but with a simple captain's widow.
~ Hm! It'll be something. And what did that wonder look like? what was it?
~ I do not know what it was. I have never seen a plant that looks like it. Imagine one
shrubbery, with brilliant crimson, drooping chalices, inside dark
purple, and that in such a large number that they are indescribable to all those
branches give a clean look.
Mr. Lee could not accept this. He asked for more information about the widow's plant and place of residence and, after his friend had left, hurried to Wapping, where he soon found the widow's home.
In fact, she appeared to be in possession of a plant, which, for an experienced horticulturalist, was not doubtful, was completely new in Europe. New not only, but so gracefully, which flourished so richly and apparently so easy to cultivate, that she had to become a gold mine for the first owner, who managed to exploit her well.
And that was what the old Lee had of what will soon turn out.
The main question was how he could get the plant in his possession, because it immediately appeared to him that the widow was very attached to it.
~ How did you get that plant?
~ My husband, who unfortunately died recently, has her from the West Indies before me
~ Do you want to sell me?
~ No, sir; this is impossible. It is a memorial, and as such dear to me.
~ I will tell you something good woman. I have to have that plant.
"It does not go sir, I can not give them up.
~ Let's talk quietly about the matter. That plant is me, special
reason, worth more than they can be. If you send her to me, I will send you in
for a short time the first young one I have grown from it; you then have the memory
back to your husband, and this in addition.
This saying he shook out his purse, where gold, silver and copper emerged, all together an amount of 8 guinjes (about one hundred guilders in 1880)
That temptation was a woman who did not seem to have been very mediated. If she had lost the plant for good, she would not think for a moment, then she would have kindly shown the visitor the door, but now it was quite different. In a few months she would again be in possession of a young plant, coming from the same, and she literally got that important sum as a gift.
Yet she hesitated for a moment. after all, the plant could die; the cuttings could not grow; and she could never forgive herself as ......
~ Therefore, be completely assured. I assure you that you will have a young plant.
The cuttings of this plant will grow without any doubt. I am nothing more
certainly of this. ~
It worked. The widow kept the money and Lee left a carriage in which he hid his new treasure for every indisputable glance, and drove back home.
Coming home was his first work, carefully plucking and destroying all the flowers. No one could suspect which treasure he had received. Then he cut the stalks to as many cuttings as possible, and started growing in the warm greenhouse, with this fortunate consequence that he was in the possession of three hundred healthy plants in the next spring.
Soon his plants, which he carefully concealed, began to bloom, and when there were a number of fine enough for his purpose, he placed a few in a greenhouse, which was accessible to the public, naturally so that her grace had to come true. waiting for the lovers who would come.
They did not wait long. The first was a considerable lady.
As soon as it caught sight of the fuchsias, she rushed to it.
~ Well, Mr. Lee, how sweet! How beautiful! Are those plants for sale? What do they cost?
~ Certainly they are for sale, Mylady, but they are completely new and costs a guinea
This was not an excessively high price for such a beautiful new plant. The English growers mainly supply the first plants that have been marketed, if they are really beautiful, not for less, but often at higher prices. This, too, does not let an English enthusiast be put off. Lee did know this too, by the way.
It did not take long before the first fuchsia was displayed in the lady's salon.
There will be a visit. It is a friend who, barely inside the salon, calls out; Well, my dear Charlotte! What do you have a very sweet flower. How neat! How gracious!
~ Yes, it is something completely new.
~ How did you get that?
~ I bought her from old Lee. He only had one. She costs one guinea.
~ Then I will quickly buy the second one.
And the horses had to walk what they could walk, so that no other lover would be ahead of them.
Lee had meanwhile made sure that there was a second plant again, but did not show at the same time.
One yeasts the rest. That fuchsia made sensation and the more she became known, the more visitors got the old grower, who had taken care not to come up with the first before they were all available.
In a short time he lost his three hundred plants and three hundred guineas richer.
That he did not forget to fulfill his promise to the widow, who now also was full of satisfaction, is self-evident.
(The original story is in the Floralia)
~ * ~
Madame Le Grelle D'Hauis Monsieur Clapton
AInitially one was satisfied with these first two species, but this changed when it was discovered that crossing the species benefited the large and the shape of the flowers. Hundreds of brushes were quickly used to transfer pollen from one plant to another, to create new hybrids.
Initially, the F. coccinea, here
F. macrostemma and the F. arborescens for used.
Later, after the introduction of other species, numerous forms arose in the flowers. For example, flowers with a longer tube and a larger crown, which in turn were used for mutual crossings, so that it is now impossible to determine which lineage these old cultivars have.
Unfortunately, the many hybridizers of that time did not keep any notes because they did not then see the importance of noting their crossings.
What is still known is that the very first hybrids come from the F. coccinea and the F. macrostemma, the seedlings of which are again crossed with the
One of these crosses is the 'Attraction', (F. macrostemma x F. corymbiflora) with a flower that has a red tube and calyx and with a black purple, single crown.
From F. spectabilis x F. serratifolia came the 'Dominyana' in 1852, a beautiful plant that comes from England and is still in culture.
But, after this short period everything is shrouded in mystery.
The first, real result of significance was a cultivar with a white calyx. This was the 'Venus Victrix' by Gulliver from 1842. Later this result was surpassed because plants came with flowers that had a red calyx and a white crown.
The growers also started to focus on breeding double-flowered fuchsias.
In 1850, two double fuchsias were marketed by English breeder Story; the 'Duplex' and the 'Multiplex'.
Those two cultivars did not exist long. Two years later Henderson came with his 'Hendersoni', and in 1853 Turner came with 'Grandis', soon followed by cultivars of Belgian and French origin.
In 1859 Victor Lemoine from Nancy appeared with his 'Comte de Medici Spada'.
From then on it went fast and the different English and French hybridizers competed with each other to hybridize the most beautiful novelties.
But how did that white crown come about?
The answer to this seems to be difficult to give, but in 1855 several fuchsias were sold with a white crown, almost at the same time, and by various hybridizers.
In some cases the origin was kept secret, and in some cases the white crown was so coincidental that the hybridizer himself did not know where he came from.
No matter how it may be, in 1855 six cultivars were marketed by Mr. Story with a white crown, and by Mr. Lucombe and Pince two cultivars.
Besides the white crown, there were also flowers with a striped crown on the market, but because they were not so popular, they disappeared quickly.
It was not until 1865 that there was a cultivar with a beautifully striped and double crown, the 'Gypsie Queen' by Bull.
Other notable appearances were the variegated fuchsias.
The first marketed in 1853, the 'F. variegata 'from Belgium.
It is unknown how this plant originated, perhaps it was a hike, but it can also be a variegated seedling, which is sometimes found.
The leaves of the then variegated cultivars were yellow mottled with, usually, unattractive flowers. For that reason the fancier was not so interested in these cultivars at the time, so that these plants disappeared.
But, in 1872 Thomas Miner came up with a very beautiful variegated cultivar that did stand out, the 'Sunray'.
In the sun the leaves get a red color, alternating with yellow, white and green. This cultivar is also still on the market.
~ * ~
What started with two species in England, not to mention, in America, France and Belgium, has grown into a huge variety of cultivars in a relatively short time.
~ * ~
Author Sigrid van Schaik
(taken from: 'Floralia' handbook for the knowledge and cultivation of favorite flowers by H. Witte from 1882)
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