I.Cl.S. - Book Reviews

Book Reviews by Members of the I.Cl.S. in Clematis International 2002

  1. An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Clematis - Mary Toomey, Everett Leeds and Charles Cheshire
  2. The Genus Clematis - Magnus Johnson
  3. Plant Portraits of Species and Selected Cultivars - Monica McAllen and Robin Savill
  4. All of the Clematis - Kozo Sugimoto
  5. Clematis and Climbing PLants - Akihito Kaneko
  6. Clematis Zeitung So Blühen Sie Am Schönsten / Success With Clematis - Walter Hörsch

An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Clematis - Mary Toomey and Everett Leeds, Photography Editor Charles Chesshire

Reviewed by Brewster Rogerson

An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Clematis

Long-time observers will remember a year - it was 1989, give or take a few months - in which the gardening literature of clematis took a sudden exhilarating bound, with the appearance of revised editions of the three standard English works at that time, the books by Jim Fisk, Christopher Lloyd, and Raymond Evison, and for good measure a brand new book with superb pictures by Barry Fretwell. Absorbed as we were by such riches, we would hardly have expected a stream of new books to follow, but in the next decade, spurred on by a rapidly growing public appetite for clematis, that is what we got. Most though not all of those books from the 'nineties' are still in print or on the shelves of bookshops. Last year's edition of the U.S. Books in Print had nineteen titles in English listed under Clematis, and we can be fairly sure that these are reinforced by others currently available in Britain and Europe, along with several in Japan. But until now we have not had an encyclopedia.

Most of these books are intended for and addressed to gardeners. That has understandably been the principal thread in books about clematis. But in the decade just concluded we had two major contributions from the 'other' strand, the botanic or taxonomic one, first from Magnus Johnson, his Släktet Klematis, now translated as The Genus Clematis, and more recently Christopher Grey-Wilson's Clematis the Genus. These two cap a series of systematic inquiries stretching back over two centuries, all the way to Linnaeus. Though we will have to wait to see how professional botanists deal with the points on which they disagree, it's obvious that these books have opened up much territory that has been little explored in our Western gardens or our books, and stimulated our curiosity about it. How long it will take us as gardeners and hobbyists to profit from this is hard to say, since there is a lingering problem of supply, but it is clear that our clematis authors are drawing closer to our systematists, and picking their brains. This very book illustrates the tendency, for though it announces from the start that it is intended for the inquiring gardener rather than for an audience of specialists, it is drawing energy from fresh material advanced by that other side. We see it especially, of course, in the attention to 'new' species that still haven't made their way into popular gardening.

In offering itself as an encyclopedia, a book promises us a comprehensive and detailed account of its field, with at least a major portion of its content presented in alphabetical order. We no longer expect such a publication to be a colossus in thirteen to twenty volumes, exhausting the subject in forbiddingly small type; instead we are more likely to think of a hefty single volume in which pictures take over much of the work formerly done by long pages of prose-the ID book in its highest form. To judge from the Internet, where a search for the term 'encyclopedia' yields just under five million hits (a few of them, we trust, irrelevant), the form is in no danger of becoming extinct. Nowadays that kind of book often has an extended introductory section setting up a background of information that applies to the whole subject. That is the pattern for this work. It begins with a substantial Part I, in seven chapters that range from the history and botany of clematis to the obligatory topics-cultivation and care, pruning, propagation, and pests (there seeming to be no way to avoid all that alliteration)-and including one on Clematis in North America by Maurice Horn and Linda Beutler. These are all well-judged and full of good information, and should be palatable to readers coming upon these matters for the first time. A special word should be said for the elegantly clear drawings throughout Part I by co-author Everett Leeds.

Part II brings us a brief overview of clematis groups and then the alphabetical 'Directory'-almost four hundred pages of pictures and descriptions of clematis from 'Abundance' to 'Yvette Houry.' (What! no zemuensis?) The book is comfortably laid out in double columns, with one or two photographs to a page, and descriptions placing each clematis in its proper group and giving details such as its derivation (when known) and physical characteristics. Only two or three of the 550+ clematis included go without a photograph. Each description winds up with 'recommended uses,' a thought-stimulating feature that will no doubt be widely appreciated. These authors know their clematis and have done their research as well as their gardening, so the factual reporting is of a very high standard. (The one faulty ID is of an Estonian hybrid, C. 'Pöhjanael,' which is a different cultivar from the one shown and described there. A question has also arisen over the U.S. cultivar, 'Mrs. P.T. James', but we will all have to wait for an answer until the plants of it give us this year's flowers!) As a consequence leafing through and consulting this handsome book is decidedly a pleasure.

That being true, this next comment is painful, but it can't be avoided. There is a problem. It may do only minimal damage-that probably depends on the experience-level of each reader-but in a guide to the identification of plants (especially clematis plants!) inaccurate colour is a cause for trepidation. Some forty to fifty of the photographs seem far enough away from the directly-perceived colour of the flower (or the colours mentioned in the description) to confuse a person who is not already familiar with it. For example, though some of the whites register quite accurately, a considerable number ('Arctic Queen,' 'Gillian Blades,' 'Sylvia Denny,' terniflora, to name a few) appear in various shades of yellow. Some blues have their familiar descent into pale pink (witness 'Blekitny Aniol' or 'Prince Charles'). It is sometimes difficult to see why one cultivar is called purple and another like it is called blue. But it's invidious to go on offering examples; we all know from experience that clematis colours are treacherous-that the reds are likely to over-intensify in a photograph, and 'Royal Velours' seems doomed never to come out purple. And we know also that they vary with temperature and growing conditions. Still, there are limits. The troubles with colour-registration on these pages are not the fault of the co-authors or Mr. Chesshire, but of technical processing, and it must be added that the majority of the pictures are quite good; C. 'Victoria,' for instance, has never looked better in print. But it should be understood by authors, publishers, and consumers alike that we now have photo-editing techniques that can greatly reduce the problems with seemingly unrealistic colour. What it takes is knowledgeable editing in the last stage of the publishing process, and admittedly that is expensive. But it ought to be worth money to keep a book as well-equipped as this one from walking with a slight hobble in its gait.

At the end there are useful appendices, and an index that may at first glance seem complicated, but in fact could be one of the most serviceable features of all. By cross-referencing the names it helps readers find plants that may be named differently in other books or nursery lists they have consulted. In the present uneasy flux of names that is a convenience worth having.

Reviewed by Richard Green

Every year sees a steady trickle of new clematis books onto the market. Often, though, these are just 'more of the same', little more than collections of photographs linked by relatively shallow text. Occasionally a new book, thoughtful and well-researched, will provide more useful information for the clematis gardener and cover a wider range of cultivars than the norm. Only very rarely does a book come onto the market that lifts the quality of the genre to a higher level, setting new standards for potential authors to aspire to. An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Clematis is such a book. This weighty volume runs to 426 large pages. The first quarter of the book is devoted mainly to the practice of clematis growing. It starts with a brief history and botany of the genus and follows this with a heavily illustrated section on 'Clematis in the Landscape', a chapter which, through photographic examples, shows a wide variety of ways to grow and display clematis. The remaining five chapters in this section deal with cultivation and care, pruning, propagation and hybridisation, pests and diseases and include a chapter devoted to the particular problems of growing clematis in North America. Anyone familiar with Mary Toomey's earlier 'Clematis: A Care Manual' (Hamlyn, 1999) will have some idea what to expect and will not be disappointed. The chapters are illustrated throughout with photographs and helpful line drawings.

The remainder of the book is devoted to a 'Directory of Clematis'. Here, in alphabetical order, are more than 550 clematis. Each entry describes the plant, lists its origin and parentage, its habit and pruning needs, and its flowering period. In addition, there are tips on successfully cultivating it and where it might best be placed in a garden. By far the majority of the entries are accompanied by a full colour photograph. In an effort to make this section more user friendly, the authors have simplified the normal naming conventions in order that the reader may quickly locate a cultivar from its name. Thus Clematis viticella 'Foxtrot' is indexed simply as Clematis 'Foxtrot' with the information that it is in the viticella group under the main heading.

The book is generally very well produced. If I have a slight quibble, it is one that can be directed at the majority of clematis books on the market: on a small number of pages the colour reproduction is not as good as I should have liked. In saying this I know that the authors spent a lot of time and effort getting the best from the printers that they could.

Many readers will be familiar with the Royal Horticultural Society's Encyclopedia of Garden Plants (Dorling-Kindersley, 1996); in many ways Mary Toomey and Everett Leeds have produced the equivalent for the clematis gardener. This is a book that any serious clematis enthusiast will want in their collection and one that is set to be a standard reference for many years to come.

First published in 2001 association with the British Clematis Society by Timber Press Inc., 133 S.W. Second Avenue, Suite 450, Portland, Oregon, USA. Web site: www.timberpress.com/ ISBN 0-88192-508-X. Price about £45 / US $60.

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The Genus Clematis - Magnus Johnson

Reviewed by Shannan Read

The Genus Clematis by Magnus Johnson

When I was asked if I would review The Genus Clematis by Magnus Johnson, my first thought was 'How can I ever do justice to this great book?'. Me, who has only been growing clematis seriously for little over a year! My second thought was 'How can I encourage more people to get a copy of this great book?'.

When I began my first forays into the world of Clematis, I searched for a book like this. I wanted something that had a fairly complete list with descriptions of many of the major large flowered hybrids without ignoring the wonderful species to be found. I wanted general information about how and where to situate plants - what their growing requirements were and/or what was their native habitat. I really wanted a good variety of pictures to help identify some unlabelled pre-existing plants in my garden. I also needed this information in an orderly, clear cut presentation to help me make sense in my head of the incredible range and variety of this large group of plants. None of the books I purchased quite did the job, and I made due mostly with some of the well done nursery catalogues! Then I got my copy of The Genus Clematis.

This book had everything that I wanted from a clematis book, and more! It has become an almost constant companion of mine - out in the garden, on the table beside me as I plan additions for next year, to work with me where I read up on the species that I dream of growing, and even in bed as the first night that I had the book I stayed up until 2AM reading the first few chapters.

The Genus Clematis is well written and organised, and very well and sympathetically translated into English. It contains photos of many species and cultivars as well as illustrations from varied sources including drawings and gouaches from the authors own hand. It contains a wealth of information from quite broad topics such as the history of clematis and its cultivation, to very detailed descriptions of almost 2000 species and cultivars. The sheer amount of information could be quite staggering, however, I have found that this is an easy book to 'grow' into.

Overall, the book is divided into three sections. The first section is an overview, containing the chronological history of clematis, uses of clematis, planting and cultivation, suggestions of specific clematis for different aspects and location, hybridisation and propagation, and even includes tips and experiences in photographing clematis. Included in this section (and a highlight of it) are many original gouaches by Magnus Johnson along with numerous other illustrations and photos.

The second section of the book consists of a taxonomy, a review of the history in forming and classifying the genera, subgenera and sections of the genus. There is a clear and concise treatment of the rules of naming, the international code for cultivar names, and descriptions of the general characteristics of the plants, which helps in classification. The descriptions are helpfully accompanied by line drawings done by the author to help illustrate the terminology.

Finally, in the third section, we have the plant descriptions. Nearly 720 pages of plant descriptions! The astounding thing about this section is not only the sheer numbers of plants described, but that most descriptions contain such details as previous synonyms, where this has appeared in previous texts, and where the type specification is kept. The physical description is broken into habit, stems, leaves, flowers (and buds), tepals, filaments, anthers, achenes, and many others in some cases. The descriptions end with the geographic distribution including, in many cases, the type of habitat where the native plants are found. Cultivar descriptions also include parentage (where known), originator, and supplementary information. If that were not enough information for you (!), at the beginning of each section description there is "an overview of the subsections and species, an explanation for the classification, distribution maps and keys for determination." Of course, many of the descriptions are accompanied by photos included in the text, about 170 colour photos in all. Not nearly enough by any account, but understandably limited by both production considerations and sheer availability of photos of some of the species described!

If you are at all like me, you can begin by reading the general information in the first section and some of the detailed descriptions in the third section and be very happy with the book. However, then I found myself going back time and time again to read one more topic - such as the different classifications of leaves, buds or seeds found in the second section. Each time picking up more and more information, aided by the excellent and numerous drawings and illustrations that are there just for this purpose. It is then you really begin to see just how valuable this book is! I have no doubt that I will continue to refer back to this book for years and years to come as my knowledge and appreciation of clematis increases.

More information, including an overview of the book and background on Magnus Johnson, Bengt Sundström, Jan Lindmark, Dr. Mary Toomey and Rita Eustace - all of whom made the translation into English possible, can be found at:- www.clematis.sunstone.se/en/index.html

First published (in English) in 2001 by Magnus Johnsons Plantskola AB, Bränningestrandsvägen 63, 151 39 SÖDERTÄLJE, Sweden. Web site: www.clematis.sunstone.se/en/index.html. ISBN 91-631-1030-X. Price 560 SEK (see Editors note below).

[Editors note: This book is available direct from Sweden, SEK 560 plus postage and packing plus 25% tax for European Union citizens only. However you may be fortunate to have a more local source, for example I understand the RHS Book Shop, Wisley, Surrey Great Britain have had some copies.]

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Clematis - Plant Portraits of Species and Selected Cultivars - Monica McAllen and Robin Savill

Reviewed by Doris Warmhold

Clematis - Plant Portraits of Species and Selected Cultivars by Monica McAllen & Robin Savill

When this book was given to me both for my visual pleasure and for writing my opinion about it, I was surprised and loved it immediately.

There are two reasons I loved this book: The first is that I love works of art - Dr. Monica McAllen's soft watercolour paintings are so good and very realistic. The second: This book pays surprising homage to the small blooming Clematis.

Since I love short informative notes - here I find them written by the clematis expert Robin Savill, also well known for his collection of more than 700 species and cultivars. Yes, many books have been written, but this edition is different to all the others and needs a spare place not only in your bookshelf, but better yet, always out in the open every day to enjoy another painting.

So, just enjoy this book!

[Editors note: This book contains 45 paintings of different clematis by Monica McAllen, each accompanied by a description written by Robin Savill, often with historic references and anecdotes. Monica McAllen is a celebrated and award winning botanical artist. Robin Savill runs a specialist clematis nursery in Essex, Great Britain where he also holds a National Collection of Viticellas.

A measure of the quality of this book, Doris Warmhold now has her own copy!]

First published in 2001 by The Book Guild Ltd., Temple House, 25 High Street, Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 2LU, Great Britain. Web site: www.bookguild.co.uk ISBN 1-85776-502-8. Price £25.

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All of the Clematis - Kozo Sugimoto

Reviewed by Ruth Gooch and Fiona Woolfenden

All of the Clematis by Kozo Sugimoto

Compiled for Japanese clematis lovers, this beautifully illustrated book, although written in Japanese, would be appreciated by clematarians around the world. The majority of the photographs bear the clematis names in English, which makes the book of universal interest. There are many photographs of Japanese clematis cultivars not commonly seen outside Japan, as well as other less well known cultivars from around the world. The photos are generally accurate in colour, apart from one or two, for example C. PETIT FAUCON™, and extremely attractively laid out.

Although the sections are in Japanese they are colourful and reasonably self-explanatory. They include information on Clematis and roses, featured growing together, as well as information on growing other plants with Clematis.

I found the section on Japanese native species especially interesting. It features some which are well known in other parts of the world, such as C. terniflora and C. fusca, and others which are less well known such as C. tosaensis and several forms of C. japonica.

The book contains more pictures and descriptions of herbaceous and species clematis than large flowered cultivars, which is unusual. The cultural information appears detailed and comprehensive. The pictures of Japanese flower arrangements are always interesting as well as decorative.

A rare treat and something different is the History of Clematis section containing clematis in old paintings, drawings and magazines. Some of these are from Japan and others from England.

Elsewhere one picture that caught my eye was a Japanese ceiling decorated with what looks like C. florida. Fantastic!

This is a book that is well worth looking through - even if you cannot read Japanese, you will certainly appreciate the pictures.

[Editors note: Whilst this book may not be readily available through normal sources, it should be orderable through specialist book shops. We are aware of at least one such shop in London. Any UK or European Member who is interested in a copy should contact Fiona Woolfenden for further details.]

Published in Japan by Fujinseikatsusha. Web site: used to be www.fujinseikatsusha.co.jp, but this link does not work any more! ISBN 4-574-80408-4. Price about £25.00.

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Clematis and Climbing Plants - Akihito Kaneko

Reviewed by Fiona Woolfenden

Clematis and Climbing Plants by Akihito Kaneko

We received a copy of this small but informative book last year, shortly after Clematis International 2001 had gone to the printers, so I'm pleased to be able to review it here. The book is A5 format with over 100 pages and written in Japanese.

The book is really aimed at the beginner rather than the expert. However, it is packed with information concerning growing clematis in pots and 'Andon-Zukuri' (see Clematis International 1998).

A number of pages have descriptions of Clematis and close up photos from each of the groups. The clematis names are given in English and amongst the familiar are several cultivars that were previously unknown to me.

Some of the pictures of purple clematis are have not reproduced very accurately, being too red, for example, C. 'Romantika'. However C. 'Venosa Violacea' appears correctly coloured.

There are a few descriptions of non-clematis climbing plants but this little book is really about clematis.

Published in Japan by Shufunotomo Co. Ltd 2001. Printed in Japan. ISBN 4-07-228878-0. Price unknown.

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CLEMATIS-ZEITUNG: Ratschläge und Informationen für den Clematisfreund - Walter Hörsch

(Clematis Booklet: Tips and Information for Clematis Friends)

Reviewed by Doris Schreck

Why this clematis booklet? Aren't there enough essays and books already?

15 years ago, one had to travel to England, if one wanted a book on clematis, because there were none available in the German market. Luckily this has changed over the last few years and now there is quite a selection to choose from for clematis amateurs and experts. So why another booklet on clematis? The author of this one, which consists of six pages, is Walter Hörsch - that's what makes it special!

Everybody who knows Walter and his (among others) clematis garden, also knows that this booklet will give valuable information. His membership of several plant lover's societies including the I.Cl.S. as well as his own gardening experiences, have made him one of the sought-after consultants in the clematis-world. He is able to write about clematis because of his own observations, experiments, successes and also failures. He doesn't have to copy from somebody else and that's what matters most.

In this booklet you will also find the dates of garden trips, clematis meetings, seminars, seed- and plant exchanges. New species and cultivars are introduced, pest control methods, the use of fertilizers and the explanation on the various pruning groups are given. Everything the avid amateur or expert gardener wants and needs to know about clematis in a short and comprehensive way. Walter is also the author of the book: Clematis, so blühen sie am schönsten published by Gräfe & Unzer in Germany.

The next clematis booklet, No. 7, will be released at the beginning of April 2002 at a cost of 2.20 Euros. If you wish to order any or all of the previously published booklets, please contact Walter Hörsch.

Available from Walter Hörsch, please email hoersch@t-online.de.

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