I married in 1966 and moved from Cork in the south of Ireland to Dublin which is on the east coast. This was my first time having a garden of my very own. I became interested in gardening and began to collect plants of all varieties.
I joined a horticultural society, The Royal Horticultural Society of Ireland, which ran a plant sale every year. I offered to help and I was designated to help a lovely lady, called Kitty Rearden. Kitty grew many plants, but her favourites were fuchsias and pelargoniums. That particular year, she brought hundreds of cuttings of her own fuchsia plants and she displayed pictures of these beside the little cuttings. These weren’t the varieties I had seen growing wild in Sherkin Island, these were big, blousy, glorious varieties that were being bred by fuchsia growers in Europe and America. I was smitten all over again and could visualise these growing at home. Some names I can still remember – “Dollar Princess”, “Swingtime”, “Tennessee Waltz” and “J.C. Brown”. I bought some and brought them home. I potted them into slightly larger pots, following Kitty’s advice. It was autumn, I had no greenhouse and these were tender fuchsias, needing winter protection. I put them on a bright window-sill, not in full sun. They grew slowly at first, but as spring progressed and the days grew longer, they needed bigger pots and grew into beautiful plants. Kitty was my hero.
Some years later, I got a greenhouse and increased my fuchsia collection. It was very satisfying to have pots of fuchsias growing around the garden and large hanging baskets and pots, all dripping with arching branches, full of colour. I joined other horticultural societies and began to attend any plant sales I could find, and then to enter my fuchsias in flower shows. I met many fuchsia lovers and my circle of fuchsia friends expanded. I joined the Irish Fuchsia Society which holds talks in Dublin and Belfast, eventually becoming President. Eurofuchsia, a Europe-wide association had come into being, made up of national fuchsia societies of thirteen or so countries in Europe, including Ireland. I became the delegate from our society and attended the annual meetings, held in a different country each year. Our society hosted it in Dublin in 2006. I attended most meetings for twenty years and saw beautiful gardens in parts of Europe I would never have seen but for the Eurofuchsia meetings. Sadly, in June 2022, we had our final meeting by Zoom, closing Eurofuchsia forever. It was a sad evening as good friendships had been formed over the years. We said our goodbyes with heavy hearts but, thanks to the internet, we can still stay in touch with each other. The title of the very first international fuchsia meeting I attended was :
“Fuchsia folk are friendly folk”
This is a statement which I have found to be true and I am sure that if any you grow fuchsias, you will meet other fuchsia lovers and make some lasting friendships as I did. I hope I have shared with you my love of fuchsias and the pleasure they have given me during many, many years, and I wish you all
“Happy Fuchsia Growing”