I have a garden full of plants and I’m forever taking pictures of them. They get dumped onto the computer in folders with the date of their dumping to identify them. Eventually I go through them and delete the ones I don’t want.
Looking back through photos I took a year ago I don’t always know what they are pictures of; was it Rodgersia ‘Chocolate Wings’ or ‘Bronze Peacock’?, Fuchsia ‘Genii’ or Fuchsia magellanica ‘Aurea’?
For a long time I was quite disciplined and renamed images with a plant’s name; so I have a set of images of Magnolia ‘Athene’, labelled Athene01 up to Athene64, the first taken in 2002 and the last in 2011, all in a folder called Magnolias. Somewhere, in all probability, there are duplicates of many of them in their original date ordered folders. The 64 images of ‘Athene’ total 116 MB and the whole Magnolia folder contains 1547 images occupying 2.62 GB. I have folders for Alpines, Apples, Bamboos, Camellias (x3), Climbers and 20 other groupings. It all totals 38513 photos, in 38 folders, occupying 84.6 GB of space. It’s a lot but it means I can easily find a picture of Magnolia ‘Albatross’ or Zenobia pulverulenta, Akebia kolomikta or Zantedeschia ‘Kiwi Blush’, should the need arise. It hardly ever does, but that’s not the point.
I’ve strayed quite a long way from where I’d intended to go when I started. Yesterday we moved a rather poorly Fuchsia ‘Remember Eric’ into the glasshouse. It’s not really supposed to be a hardy variety but it had been in the ground for a few years, doing fine, but this year the prolonged cold in late winter hit it hard. I dug it up and potted it and it has one feeble shoot. It’s the only plant we have of it and it’s rather nice. Look it up on the RHS website in their Plant finder function and it will tell you it was last listed in the RHS PlantFinder in 2016. In other words, you will not find a nursery that stocks it.
My instinctive reaction is that I must save it from extinction, hence the palaver of potting the plant and mollycoddling it in the greenhouse. If it had been killed outright in winter, or died since; I wouldn’t be tearing my hair out or trying desperately to find it again somewhere; I’d have quickly forgotten about it. It’s not like we don’t have dozens of other Fuchsia varieties, one or two quite similar. Anyhow, it’s now in the greenhouse and with luck will produce new growth from which we can take cuttings and grow some new, healthy, vigorous plants. If we succeed, they will doubtless bring us pleasure and if we have a few spares they may get passed on to other people.
In conservation terms, ‘Remember Eric’ will contain only the genes it inherited from its parents and the likelihood is that it contains nothing that isn’t present in a lot of other varieties. Does that mean that nothing is really lost if the variety becomes extinct? What if some pandemic strikes down Fuchsias and all but 1% are wiped out? Who knows what will be included in the 1%? It could be that a cultivated variety such as ‘Remember Eric’ has a unique combination of genes that confer resistance, couldn’t it?
Even the name seems to demand that the variety be preserved. Who was Eric? The variety was raised by Eric Johns in the UK, registered in 2002. Was it named after the man himself, perhaps posthumously? The variety ‘Harlow Carr’ was also raised by Johns and introduced by Kathleen Muncaster Fuchsias, so I looked them up online. Surprise surprise, ‘Remember Eric’ is mentioned as one of their top ten hardy Fuchsias for 2005 and described as “Still consistent whatever the weather”. The website gives advance notice of a meeting in April 2007, so I’m guessing all is not well at Muncaster Fuchsias. They are not listed as a nursery on the British Fuchsia Society website.
We will for the time being try to keep ‘Remember Eric’ going, along with several others which are probably equally precarious, and I will give due consideration to photo organisation. I’ve mentioned ‘Remember Eric’ several times, perhaps it will get picked up by Google (too late, I just Googled it and got 1,350,000 results) and it is available still, from Other Fellow Fuchsias, who either don’t do a listing in the Plant Finder or didn’t include that variety.
The dilemma has changed, do I need to try so hard to keep my plant going if it’s not on the brink of extinction after all?
Where was I? Oh, looking for a picture of it looking lovely in the garden with no way of finding one short of trawling through thousands of photos identified only by date. I really must tackle the organisation of my photos.
No, instead of following the Google entry for ‘Remember Eric’ to Other Fellow Fuchsias, I went to their home page and they shut permanently in 2017. Arrghhh!
Here are a couple of (fairly old) pictures of Fuchsia ‘Remember Eric’. I don’t remember him because I never knew him, but I rather wish I had.