Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The greenhouse experiments


The Fuchsia magelannica (named for the Straits of Magellan, and otherwise known as tree fuchsia or perennial fuchsia) cuttings have been through a lot.

First, a long plane ride. Then a glass of Harlem water for a week. Their leaves started to crisp up. I gave them  a plastic bag to retain humidity, feeling bad that I had hurried them from a southern summer to a dry northern winter.

I gave them individual plastic bags when all their leaves dropped off. They stayed there in their water like sad sticks, for more weeks. I decided to accept it and throw them out. But when I unwrapped them I found tiny green leaves sprouting between main stems and side branches.

I potted them up in damp peat moss inside  a light supermarket produce bag tent, for light and for humidity. But then they were too humid and developed mould. So I loosened the tent you see above, getting rid of the elastic band and airing them once a day.

Clearly, I have never rooted fuchsia cuttings, before. We shall see.

Apropos of naming plants, I am reading a fascinating book about late 18th and early 19th century botanizing and the discovery of Botany Bay (and of Australia, by way of New South Wales). It is a biography of botanist Sir Joseph Banks, written by Patrick O'Brian, who wrote the Aubrey/Maturin series of historical novels. This biography was published in 1983, and if you can plough through O'Brian's turgid description of Banks' school years you get to the plant-y bits, which are riveting. To a plant-y person, like me, anyway. He botanizes in Newfoundland, Iceland and right the way from Cape Horn through the South Seas (before Bligh gets there for the breadfruit and the infamous mutiny, although later it is discussed and he features), where he notes that vegetable-fed dogs taste rather like English lamb, via New Zealand, and to the east coast of Australia. Later they become very stuck on The Great Barrier Reef, which no European has seen before. Many journal entries are included verbatim, and seeing these landscapes through first person eyes is wonderful.
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