Are there flowers of which you have an irrational dislike? My dartboard pin-up for many years has been fuchsias. Why? Possibly because someone once likened their flowers to little ballerinas and, ever since, I've rebelled against the cutesy image they conjure of all those little girls whose socks never fell down in junior school.
I am, of course, cutting off my nose to spite my face. "How lovely," I purred, as Husband revealed his latest purchase. Compact bush, fat, richly coloured flowers. Then I realised it was a fuchsia (albeit not one of the the skinny-flowered, prissy ones) and went right off it. I fear it felt the pain. Last winter it turned up its toes.
A couple of months ago we visited Shrewsbury and I had to review my prejudice all over again. Shrewsbury has The Dingle, which has to be one of the most delightful public parks in Britain. Completely unprepared for what lay within the walled enclosure, I was breathless at the impact of the brightly planted flowerbeds, fountains and lake. And, of course, featuring strongly were fuchsias.
A number of fuchsias here have a pedigree that is particularly precious to those of us who remember Percy Thrower as the Blue Peter gardener. He was Parks Superintendent here from 1946 to 1974, and some of the fuchsias still used are descended from the plants he chose when he renovated the garden after the Second World War.
And who am I to argue with Percy? The displays were stunning. One of his choices, Checkerboard, says Potash Nursery, is easy for beginners and to train as a standard. It is, regrettably, one of the skinny, prissy fuchsias, but I guess I can forgive it if it it flowers as freely as Simply Fuchsias say it does.
So, perhaps I'll just have to give in and admit I was wrong. There's a lot to be said for fuchsias. There's also a huge amount to be said for the Dingle - for more, do read my review at Garden World. In the meantime, what flowers would you rather see on the compost heap than in the garden?