James Lye with his fuchsias in the walled garden at Cyffe Hall, Market Lavington, n.d.

James Lye was an esteemed Victorian horticulturalist, experienced grower, exhibitor and hybridist of fuchsias.

James is attributed with introducing around 110 fuchsias during his career. There is further research to be undertaken because sometimes cultivars appear under similar names. These could be the same cultivar but with different names because of how they were advertised at the time in different publications (Nursery Catalogues, Horticultural Press, etc.). There is also a question around why some cultivars have the prefix ‘Lye’s’ and others do not, is this how James named them, or how the Nursery Catalogues and Horticultural Press termed them so they were easily identifiable as being introductions from James Lye.

Several of James’s fuchsias display what is now considered as the ‘Lye Hallmark’ which is a rich creamy white tube and sepals with a dense wax-like texture. All of James’s cultivars with white tubes and sepals have corollas in a variety of colours from Salmon-Orange to Pink.

The other aspect of fuchsia growing, which James is associated with, is the growing of fuchsias in the style of pyramids. It was reported that some grown by James were between 9 and 10 feet tall with a base diameter of 4 to 5 feet.

As a consequence of his prolific exhibiting and growing style over the years he was described, in the press of the day, as the champion fuchsia grower in the West of England.

Although James is well known now for his Fuchsias, his work with Potatoes and Pelargoniums is less recognised. This is because the varieties of the Potatoes and Pelargoniums he raised have been replaced by newer cultivars over time and hence their association with James is less, unlike his Fuchsias which today still rank amongst the very best in cultivation. The ones known to still be in cultivation today form the Plant Heritage, National Plant Collection of ‘Fuchsias Introduced by James Lye’, which is held by Kristopher Harper-Allison MHort (RHS), MCIHort, FLS, who is also the owner of this website and recognised as an expert in James Lye.

If you have any questions or any information, relating to James and his horticultural endeavours, please contact us.