Clematis for Small Spaces - Raymond J Evison
Published 2007 by Timber Press Inc., 272 pages, ISBN-13: 978-0-88192-851-8. Price £20.00Reviewed by Josie Hulbert
The marketing skills of Timber Press and the Evison-Poulson partnership are apparent as soon as you pick up this book. Even a non clematis fan will be impressed by the cover photograph.
The title "Clematis for Small Spaces" will certainly interest most people in new build houses with smaller gardens. Once you start to read this book however you find it covers much more than small gardens with most of the 150 photographs being taken at RHS Wisley and Abbey Dore Court, neither being small!
The photographs are good, however as with most books on clematis the colours are not always true with some of the photographs having more depth of colour than in reality. This I feel is a minor fault as the photographs give you a real feel for the ideas that the author is portraying.
Mr Evison is probably the most well-known author and grower of clematis. His use of the intimate term "for me" throughout the first part of the book gives the reader a sense of trust in his knowledge of the plant. This is yet another good marketing skill.
I enjoyed the History of Clematis section, perhaps not for everyone but something not all clematis books cover. Under Classification, Evison gives good rules-of-thumb for using various types of clematis in garden situations, very handy for the new gardener. The Morphology section covers the use of seed heads, another good idea for beginners.
In the middle of the book, in the section "Combining Clematis with Other Plants", I felt Mr Evison's enthusiasm for the plant went overboard, naming so many combinations it was hard to remember what went where and with which. From thereon, though, the book gets better and better, going back to the essence of the title through concepts such as Clematis for Indoors, Container Clematis, Clematis for Borders and Small Gardens.
There are also sections listing flowering time by season as well as on pests, pruning, cultivating and hybridizing.
As you might expect Mr Evison's own clematis take forefront in suggested planting, including his Boulevard Collection and two compact clematis from his Flora collection. He is however gracious enough to mention many other clematis and their growers, often also the date of introduction. For the experienced gardener, knowing which "stable" a plant comes from and how long it has been around gives a more complete picture of what you can expect from the plant.
In conclusion this book is worthy of a place on the bookshelf of any clematarian. It is easily read and easy to refer to. and should appeal to a wide range of readers. And I've already ordered a few of the new Evison-Poulson clematis!
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