Plant of the month (March): Fuchsia Censation
By Gareth Richards, Bakker Spalding Garden Company’s gardening expert
The trusty old fuchsia has steadily fallen from favour through no fault of its own. We’ve just taken it for granted and been distracted by other things – but this month, we’ve launched a new and unusual fuchsia with edible sweet berries, available exclusively from Bakker Spalding.
The Fuchsia Censation ‘Juice Berry’ has lots of striking pink or purple blooms in hanging clusters and sweet blueberry-like berries.
Fuchsias are incredibly eyecatching and look gorgeous, but gardeners love them because they’re so undemanding and low-maintenance – they thrive pretty much anywhere.
It’s a medium-size evergreen shrub – the Latin name Fuchsia arborescens means “tree-like” which might be an overstatement in our climate where it will grow to about 5ft or so. After the flowers have faded, blueberry-like fruits appear; if they taste anything like other fuchsia berries I’ve tried, they will taste a bit like a fig, sweet and syrupy.
Late summer is a good time to harvest fuchsia berries – from July until September. Pick them when they are soft and squishy and be sure to use them promptly as they don’t keep well. You can make jams, juices or syrup from them and they are delicious added to plain yoghurt.
If you fancy giving the new fuchsia a go, why not try this recipe for Fuchsia Berry Jam?
- 1 lb. sugar
- 2 tbsp apple juice (from a carton)
- Juice of 1 medium sized lemon
- 1 ½ lb. ripe fuchsia berries, washed (if you don’t have enough fuchsia berries, you can top them up with ripe blueberries)
- Mix the sugar, apple juice and lemon juice together in a large saucepan.
- Place over a low heat and stir until the sugar dissolved.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
- Add the berries gently into the mixture, ensuring the berries are not broken too much.
- Bring the mixture slowly to a boil.
- Boil until the mixture will set when dropped onto a plate.
- Seal in heated jars.
In common with most other fuchsias, this one is easy to grow, even in shady spots. Plants appreciate watering in dry weather and they benefit from some winter protection in cold areas.
I’m going to plant mine in the shady lean-to greenhouse on the allotment. In the open garden I’d plant them out in May and make sure to mulch the roots of the plant with some chipped bark over the winter.
During the summer months, a fortnightly feed with tomato food should be more than enough to keep the display of flowers going, not to mention a regular supply of tasty berries. Bon appetit!
Visit the Bakker Spalding website to purchase your plant – www.spaldingbulb.co.uk