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.