Bad news and good news.

A few days ago we were walking round the garden and noticed that one of the Fuchsias seemed to have real problems with flowering. On closer examination the growing tips were curled up with the new flower buds curled into them. We then checked out another fuchsia in the front garden which had flowered. It was the only one we had with variegated leaves. But that too seemed to be infected. We had no idea what this was, so Robin had a look on the net.

Distorted growing tip of a Fuchsia plant
Distorted growing tip of a Fuchsia plant

Apparently it is the Fuchsia gall mite and has been written about by the RHS. It had first been seen in Brazil in the late 1970’s and has since spread to areas with warm climates, reaching Fareham on the south coast of England only a short time ago.

The only thing to do with it is remove it completely as removing the distortions doesn’t get rid of the mite and neither do pesticides – which we wouldn’t want to use unless there was no other way. When removing the plant, it either has to be burnt or got rid of safely – not on the compost heap. The mode of transportation is you and I, birds and the wind. Therefore we have to be careful that we clean tools, change clothes and wash hands after handling it.

I have just found it in the back garden too, but so far it has only affected one of the fuchsias (all hardy). Therefore we have to get rid of it as soon as possible. However, before doing so I thought I would take some pictures. The mite is 0.25 mm long, therefore too small to be seen with the naked eye. But I have one or two microscopes and have taken some stills and a short video.

First, two stills so that you know what to look for:

Fuchsia gall mite still_1 copy

 

The same gall mites taken within seconds of the first picture.
The same gall mites taken within seconds of the first picture.

I had hoped to show you a short video I took of a mite moving along a stem, but unfortunately I haven’t found a way to include it on a WordPress page. But needless to say, the mite is very bad news for those with Fuchsias at least living in the south of the UK . But perhaps this will be a warning to have a look at your Fuchsias and remove those infected as soon as you can.  This could minimise spreading.

Now the good news. The American Society of Botanical artist (ASBA) has its annual conference in Pittsburgh in October. I know I have mentioned this before. I was asked to teach and the online registration was opened on 23 July. I booked the workshops that I wanted to attend, but also checked out my own workshop.

I couldn’t believe it and I thought there was a difference between the meaning of the American and UK English words ‘waiting list’. I picked up the courage to ask and found that they meant the same thing. Already on the first day of registration, my workshop was fully booked with a waiting list! I have to keep my fingers crossed now that I can still get crab apples as subjects for the conference. At the moment, I have loads of different ones ripening here, but how they are ‘over there’ is another matter. Perhaps someone could tell me if they are likely to have any left at the time of the conference?

Screen Shot 2016-08-13 at 16.19.58

Summer Open Studio – Botanical art

Its that time of year again. Children are on holiday and the waterways (as well as motorways) are bustling. The sun is shining and the bees are buzzing, making sure we get the produce from our kitchen gardens and seeds for next year.

From my shed (studio), I can hear happy sailors in the creek, as well as curlews as they land. There seem also to be a lot of children and teenagers learning the ropes out on the water. But I am happy painting away with the sun pouring in through the open door and the cats curled up asleep as company; oblivious to anything.

Do come and experience my little haven during the next couple of weekends. You will be most welcome.

2015 Summer Open Studios flyer

One of the pieces I will be working on is my latest challenge. Fuchsia microphylla. Microphylla means small leaves. Everyone knows more or less what a Fuchsia looks like as for some it seems to be a challenge to find as many different sorts as possibly – whether hardy in the UK climate, or not. This plant is hardy but intriguing. The flowers are tiny, as are the leaves, but the fruit is also quite small although seeming to get somewhat larger than the flower.

Fuchsia microphylla
Fuchsia microphylla
Fuchsia microphylla flowers
Fuchsia microphylla flowers

I have started to paint a picture in watercolour. The composition is the real challenge and how I am going to express this on paper, with dissections. Come and see how I intend to try and solve the problems. Comments and suggestions will be most welcome.

Fuchsia microphylla painting started
Fuchsia microphylla painting started

My husband commented today that he didn’t realise that the colours in the plant were so vibrant. I had done a tad more on the painting by the time he made this comment. But it is like all things botanical, once you get down to the detail – even in grasses – the colours are amazing.

 

Fuchsia microphylla setup in my shed (studio). Plant, magnifying glasses galore, easel, chair, paints, brushes and water.
Fuchsia microphylla setup in my shed (studio). Plant, magnifying glasses galore, easel, chair, paints, brushes and water.

Robin will be ably manning the gallery and I look forward to you joining me down in the shed.