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Lost Fuchsia: Jane Lye

This week’s lost fuchsia is ‘Jane Lye’, which was introduced in 1870 and we are hoping that our fuchsia detectives will help us to find more information about this historic cultivar.

Current Status: Believed lost to cultivation
Year of Introduction: 1870
Flower Type: Single
Tube Colour: Pink
Sepals Colour: Pink
Corolla Colour: Mauve Pink
Foliage Colour: Green

We suspect that the fuchsia is named after James Lye‘s sister, although it could be named after a different member of the family. It may be possible to link the naming/introduction of this fuchsia through parish or census records.

Additional Clues on where this cultivar has previously been listed to help our detectives:
In The Checklist of Species, Hybrids and Cultivars of the Genus Fuchsia, by Leo B. Boullemier (1991), he highlights similarities between the Fuchsia Cultivars ‘Jane Lye’ and ‘Lady Kathleen Spence’.

‘At first glance, when flowers of these two cultivars are side by side, they appear to be very similar, in fact the colour of both corollas is exactly the same. Closer examination does, however, reveal that Lady Kathleen Spence is a much smaller flower with a much shorter tube ¼ in as compared with Jane Lye’s tube measuring 5/8 in. The pistil of Lady Kathleen Spence is very long almost 2 in in length whereas Jane Lye’s is very long almost 1 ¼ in, the stamens in Lady Kathleen Spence are much shorter and of different lengths, whereas Jane Lye has much longer stamens of even length. Both cultivars are genuine singles with the same folded petals of the same colour, but Jane Lye is fuller and larger with a bigger opening of the stamens. The sepals indicate the biggest difference, Jane Lye’s colour is much darker pink, although on the pale side, held almost at the horizontal with a slight twist with a much darker colour pink shading, almost to carmine at the tips and darker still underneath the narrower and not so perfect sepals as ‘Lady Kathleen Spence’. Apart from the very delicate lavender shade of ‘Lady Kathleen Spence’ its main characteristic is the thin, long, sweeping low from the sepals, standing well out, with nicely curled tips, tipped green. The flowers of Lady Kathleen Spence do not fade or lose their form, whereas the flowers of Jane Lye do fade and change colour as the flower matures, especially late in the season. The biggest difference between the two cultivars is the habit of growth, Jane Lye can be best described as a lax bush with Lady Kathleen Spence is an upright, self-branching plant which will, however, with careful training make a wonderful specimen basket as was seen at the 1976 British Fuchsia Society Northern Show as a half basket and a full basket at the British Fuchsia Society London/Reading Show 1977.’

Until 2011/12 we had this cultivar within our Plant Heritage National Plant Collection.  We have since lost this cultivar and have not been able to locate a replacement from either from our original sources or any other specialist fuchsia nursery as the nurseries which we sourced it from either no longer stock it or have the cultivar in there collection. If you are still growing this cultivar or know where we may source it please contact us.

We are hoping that our fuchsia detectives will find some information about this historic cultivar, through historical resources, such as the Gardeners’ Chronicle, if any of our detectives are living in Europe they could consult their own countries historical journals, as we know James Lye’s fuchsias have appeared in German publications, as well as searching nursery catalogues.

Any information you can share with us (however small) will help us and other fuchsia detectives in the search.

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Wiltshire Life – Covers the Lost Fuchsia Hunt

The Wiltshire Life magazine has covered our hunt for James Lye’s lost fuchsias in their Home and Gardens Supplement, which is issued with the May edition of Wiltshire Life.


The full-page article provides details of the lost fuchsia hunt and encourages readers to put Wiltshire back on the horticultural map, by engaging in the hunt for the lost fuchsias of James Lye who is one of the most important Victorian fuchsia growers and exibitors, who came from Market Lavington in Wiltshire.

Notes about Wiltshire Life:

Wiltshire Life was established in 1946 and is Wiltshire’s leading county magazine. It looks both forwards and backwards, bringing its readers some of the best stories about county traditions while also keeping them up to date on more recent innovations. They cover the entire county, from Swindon in the north to Salisbury in the south, and from Marlborough in the east to Trowbridge in the west.  Wiltshire Life’s winning formula of stunning photography, well written features and strong design has made it the magazine to read. It is packed with interesting and topical features on county personalities, village life, walking, local history, food and drink, gardening, the arts and much more.

#lostfuchsias #Wiltshire #jameslye #harperdebbage

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Lost Fuchsia: Duchess of Fife

Today’s lost fuchsia is ‘Duchess of Fife’, which was introduced in 1892.

We know very little about this cultivar and are hoping that our fuchsia detectives will  help us to find more information about this historic cultivar.

On this occasion the partner named fuchsia ‘Duke of Fife’, doesn’t appear to have been introduced by James Lye (like the Duke of Albany and Duchess of Albany) instead the ‘Duke of Fife’ appears to have been introduced by another keen fuchsia grower, Edward Banks (from Sholden Hall, Kent) in 1894.

As we know very little about this cultivar,  we are providing some information about the person we believe James may have named the cultivar after in the hope that this may lead to some further information.

We suspect that the fuchsia cultivar ‘Duchess of Fife’ is named after the 2nd Duchess who was born in 1891.    Princess Arthur of Connaught, 2nd Duchess of Fife, RRC, GCStJ (Alexandra Victoria Alberta Edwina Louise Duff).  Alexandra was a granddaughter of King Edward VII and great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria.

The  titles and styles of the 2nd Duchess of Fife:

  • 17 May 1891 – 9 November 1905: Lady Alexandra Duff
  • 9 November 1905 – 29 January 1912: Her Highness Princess Alexandra
  • 29 January 1912 – 15 October 1913: Her Highness Princess Alexandra, Duchess of Fife
  • 15 October 1913 – 26 February 1959: Her Royal Highness Princess Arthur of Connaught, Duchess of Fife

It is possible that James named the cultivar after Alexandra’s mother, Louise, Princess Royal and Duchess of Fife (Louise Victoria Alexandra Dagmar), Louise was the third child and the eldest daughter of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.

The titles and styles of the 1st Duchess of Fife:

  • 20 February 1867 – 27 July 1889: Her Royal Highness Princess Louise of Wales
  • 27 July 1889 – 22 January 1901: Her Royal Highness Princess Louise, Duchess of Fife
  • 22 January 1901 – 9 November 1905: Her Royal Highness The Princess Louise, Duchess of Fife
  • 9 November 1905 – 4 January 1931: Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal

Additional Clues on where this cultivar has previously been listed to help our detectives:

Mentioned in the Dobbies Catalogue, 1893

We hope that our fuchsia detectives will help us find more information about this fuchsia cultivar, including any information relating to when it was first listed or when it was last listed in a nursery catalogue or publication.  Does it appear just in publications in the UK or elsewhere in Europe?

Any information you can share, will help us and other fuchsia detectives helping us in the search.

#lostfuchsias #harperdebbage #fife #queenvictoria #nationalplantcollection #plantheritage #wiltshire



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Calne Flower Shows at Bowood, Wiltshire

Bowood House – © Kristopher Harper 2017

Bowood House sometimes referred to as Bowood Park near Calne in Wiltshire hosted the Calne Flower Show for many years and James Lye , gardener to the Hon. Mrs. Hay of Clyffe Hall, Market Lavington was a regular exhibitor at these shows.

The following Marquess’s of Lansdowne owned/occupied Bowood during the years that James would have exhibited.

• Henry Charles, 4th Marquess of Lansdowne (1816–1866)
• Henry Charles Keith, 5th Marquess of Lansdowne (1845–1927) – Viceroy of India from 1888 to 1894
• Henry William Edmund, 6th Marquess of Lansdowne (1872–1936)

The 6th Marquess was keenly interested in the history of the family and the estate and wrote numerous books and papers on subjects relating to the Bowood archives. To date we haven’t been able to arrange a visit to the archives to see what (if any) information they may hold regarding the shows.

During the years when James was exhibiting at Bowood the big house would have still been standing and been a prominent backdrop to the shows (like Chatsworth House is today at the RHS Chatsworth Show). It was the 8th Marquess who made the difficult decision to demolish the big house in 1955.

Bowood House – © (showing the old house)

One show held at Bowood was reported in the Bristol Mercury and Daily Post on the 27th August 1884.

The ‘Open to All England’ tent was of course the great attraction. The first things on entering the tent that struck the eye was the magnificent fuchsias brought by Mr. Lye, gardener to the Hon. Mrs. Hay of Market Lavington.

• Class – Open to All England – Plants – 6 Fuchsias.
1st Prize: Hon. Mrs. Hay, Market Lavington (Gardener, James Lye).

• Class – Open to All England – Plants – 6 Geraniums, Gold, Silver and Bronze.
1st Prize: Hon. Mrs Hay.

• Class – Open to All England – Plants – 6 Petunias.
1st Prize: Hon. Mrs Hay.

• Class – Open to All England – Plants – Specimen.
1st Prize: Hon. Mrs Hay.

Although James Lye is now known for his Fuchsias. He like any Head Gardener of the time would have overseen the growing and exhibiting of a full range of plants, flowers and produce grown in the gardens of their employer.

The report on this show in 1884 shows the conventional way of listing the prize winners by the employer’s name, during those times you didn’t very often see or know the name of the gardener of the household. We are very fortunate that there are a good number of show reports where this convention has not been maintained and the prize winner has been listed as James Lye or Mr. J. Lye (gardener to Hon. Mrs. Hay).

We will be creating a list of all the shows that James was associated with and list this on our website in due course, as well as searching through various local and national newspapers for reports detailing the classes, prizes and if James was a judge at that show (we know he was judging some shows in 1886).

If anyone has any information about the Calne Flower Shows held at Bowood, such as Show Programmes, Entry or Prize Cards, Show Reports, Photographs or has any Cups or Trophy’s, then please do get in touch.

Fact about Bowood House: it contains the former laboratory where Dr Joseph Priestley, a theologian and tutor to the first marquess’s sons, discovered oxygen in 1774.

#calne #wiltshire #harperdebbage #bowood

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Lost Fuchsia: Crimson Globe

Today’s lost fuchsia is ‘Crimson Globe’, which was introduced in 1879 (Though we suspect that it may have been introduced slightly earlier).

The Gardeners Chronicle (29/11/1879) – provides a brief description of this cultivar and refers to the colour plate published by the Floral Magazine in September 1879.  The image and description from the Floral Magazine, can be found in one of our earlier posts

The Gardeners Chronicle mentioned this cultivar again in 1885 in a report on the Fuchsia Trails at Chiswick. This item also mentions ‘Ellen Lye’ and ‘Charming’.

Some Additional Clues to help our detectives:

  • Mentioned in the John Forbes Catalogue, 1885
  • Mentioned in the Laings Catalogue, c1890

We hope that our fuchsia #detectives will help us find more information about this #fuchsia cultivar including information relating to its first listing, and when it was last seen or listed in a nursery catalogue or publication.

Any information you can share will help us and other fuchsia detectives helping us in the search.

#lostfuchsias #wiltshire #nationalplantcollection #harperdebbage #fuchsias #horticulture #flowershow #chiswick #nursery #catalogue

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Lost Fuchsia Hunt – Become a Fuchsia Detective


Become a Fuchsia Detective…..


During 2018 we are hunting for the lost fuchsias that were introduced by one of England’s most important Victorian Fuchsia growers, exhibitor and hybridiser Mr James Lye, from Market Lavington, Wiltshire. James introduced many fuchsia cultivars but only a small number of these have survived over the years, with all the known surviving cultivars held within our National Plant Collection®.

On the 5th February we will be launching our Lost Fuchsias Hunt which will highlight one lost cultivar each week.

We are hoping that our fuchsia detectives (you/your members) will start searching for information relating to each cultivar, this could be by searching published material (Books, Pamphlets, etc.), Historical Journals such as the Gardener’s Chronicle, The Gardening World Illustrated and The Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society, etc., Local Newspapers in Wiltshire for example the Devizes & Wiltshire Gazette or surrounding areas. Nursery Catalogues such as H. Cannell & Sons, etc. We also hope that detectives will spend the summer exploring gardens to see if they can locate any fuchsias growing in gardens (e.g. those open to the public).

We will provide detectives with the following clues each week.

  • On a Monday a postcard will be posted providing a description of the lost cultivar, the year it is reputed to have been introduced and any image if we have previously located one.
  • On a Wednesday a notecard will be posted containing any additional information such as the person or place the cultivar is named after any any other relevant information. This may help our detectives in their search.
  • We may provide additional clues during the week or year about particular cultivars as information becomes available.

We will be posting our Monday and Wednesday information on our Social Media platforms (Facebook, Twitter) using the hashtag #lostfuchsias. A summary of detectives finds and developments will be reported on our blogs (Harper and Debbage and James Lye Fuchsia Collection).

Though the best way to keep yourself up to date with all the fuchsia hunting is to follow us on Facebook or like us on Twitter.

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Lye’s Fuchsias

The group of Fuchsias an engraving of which appears at fig. 39 (used as this posts image), represents a collection of nine specimens raised and exhibited by that well-known cultivator, Mr. James Lye, of Clyffe Hall Gardens, Market Lavington, at an exhibition held in Bath in September last, and which recieved the 1st prize in the premier class for that number of plants.  For many years past Mr. Lye has exhibited Fuchsias at exhibitions held at Bath, Trowbridge, Devizes, Calne, Chippenham, and elsewhere; on all occassions staging specimens of a high order of merit; but the plants appearing in our illustration were universally regarded as the best he had ever placed in an exhibition tent.  So much were the committee of the Bath show pleased with the specimens that they engaged the services of a photographer to make a picutre of them on the spot; but after being two hours making the attempt, no satisfactory result occurred.  After the plants were taken back to Clyffe Hall, they were photographed as seen in the illustration. So idea of their height and dimensions can be reaslised by a comparison with the stature of Mr. Lye, who is standing by his plants and who is of average height.  It should be mentioned, that previous to being photographed they had travelled by road from Market Lavington to Bath and back, a distance of 52 miles, in addition to having been exhibited two days.  They returned to their home apparently little worse for wear, which immunity from harm is no doubt owing to the admirable system of tying adopted by Mr. Lye.  It is sometimes said that the act of tying-in the flowering shoots in this manner gives the plants a somewhat severely formal appearance, but there is an abundance of healthy foliage and a wonderful profusion of finely developed flowers, showing the most careful and painstaking cultivation.  It is only those who are privileged to see these unrivalled plants who can appricate them at their proper worth.

It has been stated already that the varieties figured are all of Mr. Lye’s own raising, which fact attests to the value of his seedlings, many of which he has produced.  Four of these are dark varieties, viz., Bountiful, Charming, Elegance, and the Hon. Mrs. Hay – the latter one of the oldest, but one of the freest and scarcely without an equal for its great freedom of bloom.  The remaining five are light varieties, viz., Lye’s Favourite, Harriet Lye, Star of Wilts, Pink Perfection, and Beauty of the West.

The specimens figured average from two to five years of age.  It is really marvellous what Mr. Lye can do with a Fuchsia in two years, and lest it might be supposed that he has plenty of glass accomodation and keep his plants under glass continuously, it is due to him it should be stated that he is very deficient in house accomodation, having but two small houses, in one of which (a cold house) he winters his plants and brings them on until he can place them with safety in the open air in early summer.  His method of treating the specimens as set forth in his own words may prove helpful to some of our readers: – “After the plants have done flowering, say about the third week in October, I cut them back into the shape best fitting to form symmetrical specimens, and keep them dry for about a week to ten days, to check the bleeding of sap which follows; after that I give a little water just to start them into growth so as to make shoots about three-quarters of an inch in length, in order to keep the old wood active and living.  I keep them in a cold house, and give them but very little water until the first or second week in February, when I shake of old soil from the roots, and report them into fresh compost made up of three parts good loam, one part well decomposed manure, and one part leaf-mould and peat, with a good bit of silver or sea-sand to keep it open.  In order to make large specimens they are shifted as soon as the pots are filled with roots.  About the first week in June I place them out-of-doors on a border somewhat sheldered, and syringe the plants freely every day during the hot weather to keep the foliage clean and healthy.  I top them back until about seven or eight weeks before I want to show them, according to the requirements of the variety, as some of them require it to be done more freely than others.  I give them a liquid manure, using what I get from cows, which with some soot is put into a tub, allowed to stand a week or ten days before using, and I give them a good dose once a week as they show signs of flowering.”  In order to preserve his plants from the effect of hail and very heavy rains, a rough framework is erected, and over this is stretched some floral shading, which can be readily removed when required; it also serves the purpose of shadng the plants from the sun in very hot and scorching weather.

During his career as an exhibitor of Fuchsias Mr. Lye has taken nearly one hundred 1st prizes – a measure of success which fully justifies the bestowal of the title of being the Champion Fuchsia Grower of his day. R.D.

From: The Gardeners’ Chronicle, February 14, 1885.  p.g. 209-210.

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New Fuchsias – The Floral Magazine – 1880


If the signs of improvement in the Fuchsia are less marked than they were twenty years ago, it is because the average standard of excellence is high, and advances are less striking than they were before the quality of the flower was so much improved.  But as there is no limit to the progress florists can make, and as there is an infinite variety of form and colour, it is well that florists are still found at work seeking to realize more advanced standards.

The new varieties now figured were rasised by Mr. James Lye, of Market Lavington, Wilts, and have recieved high awards at the leading exhibitions in the West of England.  Mrs. Hooper Taylor (fig.1) is a charming light variety, with stout well-formed tube and sepals, and a pleasing pink corolla.  Mr. Hooper Taylor (fig. 2) is a dark variety of the finest quality, with rich coral-red tube and sepals, and magenta-purple corolla. Fairy Queen (fig. 3) is a very novel and distinct variety, with white tube and sepals, and magenta-pink corolla.  The habit growth in each case is all that could be desired, and we are confident these new varieties will be in demand for exhibition and decorative purposes.

Taken From: The Floral Magazine, 1880. Plate 426.

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Fuchsia, Lye’s Favorite – The Floral Magazine – 1880


If perfection may be said to have been attained in the case of the Fuchsia, it is applicable to the variety now figured.  Raised by Mr. J. Lye, of Clyffe Hall Gardens, Market Lavington – the foremost exhibitor of Fuchsias in the West of England, and a most successful raiser – it has been warmly welcomed by the cultivators of Fuchias in that part of the country, and awarded a First-class Certificate of Merit.  Flowers of this fine variety were sent during last summer to the leading garden papers, and their quality described in glowing terms.

The habit of growth is all that could be desired in a decorative Fuchsia; in its robust. without inclining to coarseness; it is of a free and symmetrical character, and the finely-formed blossoms are produced with remarkable freedom.  The flowers are of fine shape, long, and borne in elegant clusters; tube and sepals waxy-white; the corolla rich deep rose, with a slight Picotee margin of lively pink.  It is a variety that, by reason of its great merits, must supersede many of the light varieties now cultivated.  The stock of it is in the hands of Mr. Lye, by whom it will, in all probability, be distributed in March or April.

Taken From: The Floral Magazine, 1880. Plate 396.

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Fuchsia, Crimson Globe – The Floral Magazine – 1879


This is a very fine exhibition and decorative variety, raised by Mr. James Lye, Clyffe Hall, Market Lavington, Wilts, and distributed by him last spring.  Our illustration is from a spray plucked fram a plant of good size, which displayed to the greatest advantage the handsome leafage and symmetrical growth of the variety, its great freedom of bloom, the elegant outline of the plant, and the fine individual character of the flowers. The tube and sepals are of a deep red, very broad, stout, and finely formed; the corolla, which is of the finest form and very massive, as well as handsomely rounded, is of a plum-purple colour.

Mr. Lye has been turning his attention to raising new varieties of the Fuchsia that should possess all the qualities desirable in exhibition and decorative plants.  As exhibition varieties his new forms are particularly worthy of notice, and we can heartily commend them to the attention of our readers.

Image taken from: The Floral Magazine, 1879. Plate 371.