SOME say that since the patio revolution the gardener’s favourite flower has changed from the rose to the fuchsia.
Being a fuchsia-holic I could not agree more.
All provide a stunning display of pendulous bells over a very long period and come in a superb and quite fascinating range of colours from both the warm and cool side of the colour spectrum.
The only primary colour missing is yellow.
Fuchsias on the patio are one thing however, those for general garden work are quite another.
Whenever I think of hydrangeas, I automatically visualise fuchsias alongside, for both enjoy the same conditions.
They flower in the second half of the year and both carry on without any effort until frosts put an end to their flowering in late October.
Both will also be found ideal for attractively furnishing a north-facing border, a fact which is not fully appreciated even by those who have gardened with both species for years.
Readers with north and east facing situations to plant should now take note.
The fuchsia to plant with hydrangeas depends on the colour of the hydrangea.
With pale colours the rich tones of Mrs Popple (cerise red and purple) show up well and because this variety is a vigorous grower, it is unlikely to be overpowered by the larger proportions of a mature hydrangea.
Her dress of cerise and purple, is a showy combination which is distinctly fashionable today given that soft tones seem to dominate everywhere.
There is no question about the lady's hardiness, for she comes through the hardest winters without protection reappearing in April to flirt with and court us all over again.
But for all her many attributes Mrs Popple is only one of a massive crowd.
Look to fuchsia magellanica tricolour for dainty red and purple flowers set in graceful tiers up arching stems which are immune to wind damage and persistent rain.
Its richly marbled leaves are constantly changing colour between ashen grey green to bright pink, either in streaks or along stems and veins. These shades are seldom seen on other shrubs and are most intense during spring and again during autumn.
This variety is truly a feature worthy of a spot in any garden.
It combines well with hydrangeas, ornamental grasses, and classy shrubs which may have faded by September's close.
Tricolour is hardy in all winters except those which kill roses in the open, and geraniums under glass.
Other proven varieties are also mainly hardy but many growers (in cold counties) tell me that they’re obliged to cover fuchsias with leaf litter and gritty compost from November onwards.
Personally, I never cover the crowns of fuchsias even on those that border on the tender, but I insist on leaving the frosted stems in situ until spring.