Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Carl Bonstedt Fuchsias

 Fuchsia triphylla from Curtis' Botanical Magazine
Joseph Hooker (1817-1911)
The German botanist and gardener, Carl Bonstedt (1866 -1953) was a man in the right place at the right time. In the early 1880's he managed to secure a plant of Fuchsia triphylla while working at Kew Gardens. The plant had been given to Kew by Henderson's Nursery of the Edgware Road and they had originally obtained it from New York nurseryman Thomas Hogg Jr. who had connections in Haiti and the Dominican Republic where this species is found growing in cool mountainous terrain. So on return to Germany, Bonstedt, who worked briefly at the Botanic Garden in Rostock from 1892 to 1900 and then at the University Botanic Garden in Gottingen, developed and produced some fine hybrid Fuchsias based on the F triphylla species. 
While often used as summer bedding plants in Europe, they thrive in a mild winter climate like ours and will flower their heads off all through winter and spring.They have the added bonus of attractive olive green, purple backed leaves and as their flowers are terminal racemes on reddish stems they are always visible and not shy at being showy. 
The main varieties available and their original release dates are: 'Mary' 1905 ,a rich scarlet colour; 'Gottingen', 1905 vermilion; 'Traudschen Bonstedt' 1905 pale salmon pink; 'Thalia', 1905 pale orange; 'Koralle' 1906 rich salmon orange; 'Gartenmeister Bonstedt' 1906 glowing orange to brick red. A terrific book which has these photographed as individual flowers to show the difference is the Plants for Warm Gardens book by Roger Phillips and Martin Rix (Pan Books)
Carl Bonstedt retired in 1931 and left us with these wonderful hardy fuchsias which are still popular and easy to grow today.

Fuchsia x 'Gartenmeister Bonstedt'

1 comment:

  1. great post Ian.

    These German raised Fuchsias are wonderful plants for frost free gardens. Its nice seeing a plant named after a head gardener rather than some aristocrat.