I.Cl.S. - Book Reviews


Book Reviews by Members of the I.Cl.S. in Clematis International 2005

  1. Gardening with Clematis - Design and Cultivation - Linda Beutler
  2. Clematis - Charles Chesshire
  3. Clematis in the Garden - Aivars Irbe
  4. Clematis - Akihito Kaneko
  5. Clématities - Arnaud Travers & Didier Willery
  6. Plantes Grimpantes - Pépinières Travers & Didier Willery


Gardening with Clematis - Design and Cultivation - Linda Beutler

Published by Timberpress, Portland, Oregon, USA and Cambridge, Great Britain. ISBN 0-88192-644-2. Price $34.95 US / £25.00

Reviewed by Iris Clarke

Gardening with Clematis - Design and Cultivation - Linda BeutlerIf you want to improve the look of your garden, then read Linda Beutler's book on garden design and cultivation.

It is a mine of information on plant association, whether it's in the border or in pots. I knew when I saw the front cover that this was just the book I've been looking for. I have both plants on the cover, but not together. My mistake! I always knew I needed a helping hand to plant my Clematis in the "right place". Linda's book will help immensely. The photographs are stunning, the plant descriptions precise and written in a friendly, understandable way. The gardens she tells of in Portland, Oregon where she lives make one want to fly straight off to investigate.

This is a good book for the novice as it is very encouraging but also helpful for the more experienced. One can never know enough about this genus, but Linda certainly knows lots. The "ten best plants" in each chapter are a good guide too. The book also covers other plants of the Ranunculaceae family. Perennials and bulbs too come in to the equation, along with annuals and other vines, helping the gardener to mix and match and to try something new. There is also a section on "Clematis in Containers", which I found interesting as half of all my clematis are grown in pots.

Linda's writing flows like a river and the book is very hard to put down. I thoroughly recommend it to everyone interested in the ebb and flow of garden arranging. I wish Linda every success with this book. For my money, it's great value.


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Clematis - Charles Chesshire

Inspiration, selection and practical guidance

Published by Quadrille Publishing Limited. 160 pages. ISBN 1-84400-113-X. Price £20.00

Reviewed by Helen Hadley

Clematis - Charles ChesshireThis is an impressive looking book, you won't be disappointed when you delve in. I indulged my passion and read this book on a snowy February day, reclining in a chair.

The clematis story is an interesting one, I particularly like the idea that Morel's 'Cast offs' were sent to William Robinson. Anyone got any 'cast offs'?

The section "Clematis in the Garden" shows the diverse range of size, textures, colours and growing habits, so that with careful selection clematis can add interest all through the year.

My favourite section, "Ways of Growing", is packed full of ideas and ways to use clematis with other shrubs and plants to produce fabulous combinations, I will definitely be trying a few of the ideas out on my new garden.

There are over 170 delicious clematis photographs by Andrew Lawson. The pictures are stunning and I am sure you will end up with a long list of clematis to try out. Best image is that of C. 'Fascination' (page 125), which shows the lovely thick fleshy sepals. The only photo I found disappointing was of C. 'Pink Champagne' (page 81), which does not do it justice. It's one of my favourite early, large flowered clematis and in real life has a strong pink edge to the flower and a pale pink or white central bar, quite different from photo, or is it the growing conditions I have for my clematis?

The third section of the book "Choosing Clematis" covers the different groups, evergreen, atragenes, montanas, early large-flowered hybrids, late large-flowered hybrids, viticellas, texensis, late-flowering species, orientalis and herbaceous clematis.

The "Good Practice" section provides information on planting, pruning, training, feeding and watering, propagation, hybridization, giving the complete beginner the best possible chance of successful cultivation.

The only drawback was that I find the book slightly too large. I am a busy mum - daylight hours are filled with other chores. I tend to take books to bed and this book just feels too cumbersome to snuggle up to in bed and read. Overall an excellent book, well worthy of a place in my library, I am now filled with inspiration to tackle my garden for the spring. I would buy this book as a gift for a special gardening friend or to encourage a new gardener. I am sure it will initiate more clematis addicts and help to continue the clematis story.


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Clematis in the Garden - Aivars Irbe

Published in 2004 in Latvian by Izdevniecîba "Sol Vita", Registracijas apl. Nr. 2-0714, Bruninieku iela 57, Riga, LV 1011. 143 pages. ISBN 9984-759-16-4.

Reviewed by Fiona Woolfenden

[Editor's note: It was very pleasing to receive a copy of this book from Aivars Irbe, renowned Latvian clematarian. In spite of the important place of Latvia in clematis history, as far as I'm aware, there has been relatively little published by Latvians. This book appears to be aimed at the ordinary person, to impart knowledge and encourage more clematis growing for pleasure. I hope it succeeds.

Please note, due to limitations with the commonly available web character set, the publisher details above are an approximation to the correct spelling shown in the journal.]

Clematis in the Garden - Aivars IrbeReviewing a book written in Latvian is a challenge so I am very grateful to Aivars and/or the publisher for an English summary of the contents of the book. It is an A4 paperback with a number of big photos. Unfortunately the quality of the reproduction of the photos is variable; although some photos are good, some are less satisfactory, both in their colour match and sharpness of reproduction. I suspect this is due to the quality of printing equipment and supplies currently available within Latvia.

The book describes:


Aivars's experience of 30 years of growing Clematis in his garden provides answers to the following questions:


As the book summary states: "Very often gardeners find Clematis to be complicated, capricious and labour-consuming plants. The author of the book gives you useful advice on how to grow them according to their demands and desires, using less labour, choosing the appropriate cultivars, the place, supports and special trimming methods."

A wide range of species and cultivars is described in the book and detailed descriptions of around 300 Clematis are provided.


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Clematis - Akihito Kaneko

Published in 2004 in Japanese. 96 pages. ISBN 4-06-274301-9. Price 1400 Yen.

Reviewed by Fiona Woolfenden

Clematis - Akihito KanekoA well presented A5 sized book which is packed with photos, drawings and information. Although written in Japanese the book contains a number of titles and Clematis photo names in English. The pictures are generally of excellent quality with the clematis being the correct colour.

The book contains sequences of pictures on a number of aspects of Clematis cultivation such as planting Clematis and re-potting Clematis. These pictures although very small provide a good example of what to do.

There is a section at the end of the book on how to cultivate clematis in 'black and white' with a large number of diagrams that look very interesting. Unfortunately the text is totally in Japanese so I am unable to comment further.

An unusual item that caught my eye concerns where to grow Clematis in your garden. There is a picture of a house with a small surrounding garden with Clematis on the walls, around the door and growing in a number of other situations. This is an interesting way to suggest how Clematis can be grown.

This book is small but beautifully formed. In spite of the obvious language problem, I love looking through it.


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Clématities - Arnaud Travers & Didier Willery

Published in 2001 in French by Ulmer, 5 rue de Charonne 75011 Paris, France. 96 pages. ISBN 84138-147-1. Price 14.95 Euros.

Reviewed by Fiona Woolfenden

[Editor's Note: In spite of its history of clematis breeding, (coincidentally we have an article on this topic on page 131) until recently there has been little interest in France for growing clematis. However now there are some signs of change. With this in mind I thought it would be useful to mention and briefly review both of these books by Arnaud Travers.]

Clématities - Arnaud Travers & Didier WilleryAn attractive A5 paperback book with a number of pictures of clematis. The photos of individual clematis give the effect as if they have been 'cut out' of a photo and then placed on the page. This is very effective for many large and small flowered clematis but in a few cases the black edge is visible and it does not work well. Overall, though, it is very pleasing.

The text with some diagrams and picture sequences contains growing information including Arnaud's recommendation for a simpler way of pruning than by the usual group-dependant rules. Arnaud's method is to take a pair of stems and prune the older, each year at the beginning of the growing season. It is a very simple rule designed for non-gardeners and although it will never give the best plant, it should also never fail. It is an interesting idea.

About 30 Clematis of all types are featured in the book. For every Clematis cultivar featured there is a pair of pages when the book is opened, the left-hand side featuring information about the cultivar and the right-hand side suggesting a number of other cultivars which are similar. This provides easy to understand information 'at a glance' for the novice grower.


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Plantes Grimpantes - Pépinières Travers & Didier Willery

Published in 2002 in French by Hortcolor, 10-12, espace Henry Vallée - 69007 Lyon, France. 144 pages. ISBN 2-904-176-09-8. Price 34.30 Euros.

Reviewed by Fiona Woolfenden

[Editor's note: "Plantes Grimpantes" means "Climbing Plants".]

Plantes Grimpantes - Pépinières Travers & Didier WilleryAn A4 format hardback book with information on all types of climbing plants as well as clematis. It is an attractive 'picture' book with about 50% devoted to clematis.

The book does have growing information about the various climbers featured but mainly contains individual information about a wide range of cultivars with their pictures. There are a number of large photos of many climbers including clematis in a garden setting. Generally the photos are good with only the odd one being slightly disappointing. It is a good reference book for French clematarians with details of a useful selection of available clematis cultivars.


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