CHAS. NOBLE, in Gardeners' Chronicle.
Some quarter of a century ago I had learned to appreciate the extraordinary value of Clematis Jackmanni, and when admiring it the exclamation frequently arose, "What a glorious thing a white Jackman would be!" At that time I had just succeeded in raising the beautiful set of patens varieties—Miss Bateman, Albert Victor, Lady Londesborough, Lord Londesborough, and a host of others, all lovely, and still holding their own, as they are still unsurpassed. I tried all ways I could think of, and at last after—I am afraid to say how many—years I succeeded in getting a cross between Jackmanni and white patens. From this number of seedlings no break at all appeared of any importance, except the present subject, but it flowered, and I was delighted, and showed it to one or two people, and told many more; its after history is well known—its hairbreadth escapes, almost total loss, its disappointments, its condemnations. I had planted out a specimen, and watched its opening flowers, when, to my disgust, it produced a nondescript, dirty bluish abortion. I said, "Propagate no more!" and for a year or two I crest-fallenly admitted to all my friends that Jackmanni alba was a disappointment, and should never be sent out. After a time, however, I remembered the parable of the Fig tree, and said, "Dig about it, and try again." It was done, and at last, in 1883, it appeared in public in its true form. A good many thousands have now been circulated over the world, and although I have had some very pointed questions put to me respecting these abnormals, one or two abusive letters, and one case of a Dutchman who refused to pay, I may say that altogether I am quite satisfied with my child: but its habit of producing the nondescript flowers is very curious indeed. The flowers produced from the old wood during the months of May, June and July, are double or semi-double, solitary, and of a bluish French gray; while those produced from the young shoots, in August and September, are single and white, in pairs on a long raceme, showing as many as ten pairs and a terminal on a string. This is one of those freaks of nature which are such sore puzzles to the poor unscientific ones. It appears to me that the union of the blood of patens, a spring-flowering kind, with Jackmanni, an autumn type, is complete so far, but that a kind of rivalry, if I may use the term, is set up to see which type is the stronger. As far as my experience has gone, the patens form is never white, and only flowers when the old wood is left growing, but always appears during May, June and July, while no Jackmanni form is ever seen during those months; on the other hand, when the old wood is cut away no patens is ever seen, but Jackmanni commences and produces a mass of flowers on the shoots of the year, during August, September and October, as true Jackmanni does.
I have one other case, perhaps equally curious, though different; the kind named Proteus produces large, double flowers about June; it then rests a month or so, and then commences to flower again, producing its second crop of flowers quite single, but of the same color.
I wish some of the thousands who have grown Jackmanni alba would give their experience, because it seems to me a very interesting problem, and it would be well to know if the plant has perpetrated any further freaks. As far as I know, the purple Jackmanni never flowers in the abnormal way just described with regard to alba, whether allowed to flower on old or young wood, though in both cases (purple and white) the four or six parted flowers are produced on plants more or less robust. If very strong, the first burst of flowers will, many of them, be six parted in both kinds.