THE GARDENERS' CHRONICLE. ser. 3, 4(85): 152 (Aug 11, 1888)

Charles Noble, Bagshot.

Some quarter of a century ago I bad 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 hair-breadth 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 crestfallenly 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-grey; 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 colour.

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.

As regards the origin of C. Jackmanni, all I can say is that no Clematis approaching the character of Jackmanni ever came under my notice through Mr. Fortune, either from China or Japan, as far as I can remember. Fortunei, Standishii, lanuginosa, and lanuginosa pallida, and, lastly, John Gould Veitch, were all Fortune's importations. M. Lavallee's notion, that C. Jackmanni is the C. hakonensis, a native of Japan, is very curious. I myself believe implicitly in Jackman's version against it, but there are so many extraordinary things amongst plants, that it is not safe to speak positively. There is, for instance, the remarkable Cytisus Adami, whose story need not, perhaps, be repeated here.

SPIRAEA NOBLEANA. — Then in my own case I grew Spiraea Douglasii (North American) and Spiraea callosa (China), side by side. The plants seeded and fell on the ground, producing a crop of seedlings for yards round. The young plants were grown on, and a large number produced a form about midway between the two species. Dr. Lindley named it S. Nobleana; that was strange, but the most remarkable thing remains to be told. The same plant (identically the same) was raised the same year by the late Robert Donald, of Woking, and M. Lierval, of Paris; not only that, but Dr. Lindley told me he had dried specimens from North America agreeing exactly botanically with my Spiraea. I myself saw the plants growing in Mr. Donald's and M. Lierval's grounds.

The Garden 26(662): 79 (July 26, 1884)

This variety is remarkable for bearing double flowers in July, but a month later it throws up only single flowers. The double flowers were exhibited on a former occasion. Mr. Noble now sent single flowers from the same plant. It is of a pale lavender colour.

The Gardeners' Chronicle, ser. 3, 4(86): 190 (Aug 18, 1888)

CLEMATIS JACKMANNI ALBA. I have read with interest Mr. Noble's note, p. l52, concerning the above, and regard it as an excellent exemplification of the value of patience and perseverance. I now give my experience of the variety in question. In the autumn of 1885, or spring of 1886 I forget which I planted a young plant against the east side of the mansion here, with the result that two or three weak growths, about 4 feet long, were made during the summer. Last year these produced a few flowers of the character described by Mr. Noble, viz., semi-double, solitary, and of a bluish French grey; and although I cannot say I disliked the flowers, my employer and myself thought it inferior to Lucy Lemoine a double white variety of the Florida type at the time, and did not regard it as an acquisition. The plant gained vigour, and made young shoots 10 to 12 feet long, which, in their turn, produced an abundance of pure white single flowers in September, and which were much admired. This circumstance, however, was rather a puzzle to me, and I was asked the question "Why is it that the flowers are single and pure white, whereas the others were nearly double, with a bluish tinge?" It was certainly difficult to answer the question offhand, and I was obliged to fall back on the stereotyped reply, "It is one of those variations in Nature which sometimes occur and cannot be accounted for." Mr. Noble's note, however, is a clear exposition of the why and the wherefore, and I for one tender him many thanks for sending it to your columns, and for this grand introduction to our gardens. Seeing that our plant made such strong growth last summer we were looking forward with interest to see if its behaviour would be the same this year, but we have been doomed to a certain amount of disappointment, the severe frosts of January having killed it down to the ground. In the spring two or three young shoots were seen to be throwing up from near the base; one of these has already attained a height of 14 feet, and is showing an abundance of flower-buds, which promise to give us a fine display in another week or two. Can any of your readers say from experience if it will live through a severe winter if grown on a south wall, i.e., wood of the previous or current year's growth ? Our situation is low and damp, and subject to late spring frosts; on a south or west aspect we find Lucy Lemoine and other varieties of the Florida and patens type too tender to withstand severe winters. J. H,

Clematis Jackmanni Alba pictures