Plant of the month: January
Barrel Arch between Arid and Mediterranean Houses
An evergreen shrub with large lance shaped leaves and panicles of small rosy-purple flowers, Fuchsia paniculata is one of approximately 100 species in the genus, and comes from the moist forests of Central America. This particular species flowers over a long period and has the added bonus of producing attractive blue fruits with a waxy bloom, like that seen on grapes. Although insipid in taste the berries are edible and in South America they are eaten like brambles! It will form a handsome shrub in the garden, surviving down to -9°C, in a semi-shady spot with some protection from wind, but can be slow to restart, so it is best overwintered indoors, where it should be kept just moist. It can form a large specimen so careful consideration needs to be given when considering whether to grow it indoors. The fuchsia was named in honour of Leonard Fuchs, a German botanist, by its discoverer Father Plumier, but Fuchs never saw a Fuchsia because he died long before its introduction to Europe!