I.Cl.S. - Book Reviews

Book Reviews by Members of the I.Cl.S. in Clematis International 2004

  1. Choosing your Clematis - John Howells
  2. Clematis from Seed - Brian R Collingwood
  3. Photographs of Clematis Flowers - Satomi Kuriyama and Yoshiaki Aihara
  4. Clematis - Walter Hörsch

Choosing your Clematis - John Howells

Published by Garden Art Press, a division of Antique Collectors' Club Ltd, Woodbridge, England. ISBN 1-870673-47-6. Price £12.95

Reviewed by Fiona Woolfenden

Choosing your Clematis - John HowellsWhat a difference presentation makes! We first reviewed 'Choosing your Clematis' in Clematis International 2001 and this reprint just shows how much better a book can look with greater attention to detail by the publishers. This edition was published last year, just after CI2003 was sent to the printers.

In the previous book review in CI2001, Ruth Gooch and I commented that many of the photos were printed slightly out of focus. Some still lack sufficient depth of field for my liking, though this is not uncommon when taking a shot of a flower against a background plant. However, in this edition many of the pictures are considerably improved. For example, C. 'Sir Trevor Lawrence' is so much more velvety than previously and therefore so much more attractive.

The presentation of some pictures has also been improved by using a white border. Although not completely enclosed, they are bordered on three sides and the effect is much more attractive.

The advice is still good for beginners with suggested varieties which match reasonably well with our own Recommended Clematis . You could give a friend a present of this book with a list of our Recommended Clematis and between them your non-clematarian friend should not go wrong. In addition your friend gets advice on 12 plants to start their collection and lists of suggested clematis by colours to flower throughout the season.

The chapters and sections on buying clematis, with pictures of the all too common plug plants and liners, and advice on wilt, provide comprehensive information for the uninitiated and I found the advice sound and sensible.

Dotted throughout the book are a number of photos on growing clematis with other plants. Plant combinations that we can all try are of great interest these days. For example, the white of C. montana var. grandiflora with the mauve of wisteria are very attractive together.

In conclusion, we said before that this was a good book for the beginner. It is even better now the photos have been improved.

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Clematis from Seed - Brian R Collingwood

Published by the author, 75 A4 Pages, 36 Colour Illustrations, Price: UK £21 inc. p&p : Europe £22 inc. p&p: USA $36.75 inc. p&p (@ £1 = $1.5), Credit Cards accepted - see web site at http://homepage.ntlworld.com/bcollingwood/index.html

Reviewed by Everett Leeds

Clematis seed sowing enthusiasts who do not possess computers will find this little volume extremely interesting. Possibly aimed at the rank amateur but even those used to growing clematis from seed will find the advice and data will supplement what they already think they know. How true is the phrase "You can learn something new every day". For those on the Web, find Brian's site at http://homepage.ntlworld.com/bcollingwood/index.html and you will see all the text of the booklet and probably better reproduction of the illustrations. Furthermore, you will be able to see up-to-the-minute additions and comments too.

The author's seed sowing experience is set out and data recorded as to germination times, potting on, health care, pruning to produce more shoots and technique for seeing that all important first flower at the earliest possible time. Once germination has begun advice is given to ensure they survive and come to that magic moment of fruition. General greenhouse hygiene is also covered - something that I always seem to neglect on a personal basis!

Hybridisation is also covered for those amongst us who like playing with nature and a theme running through the volume is to keep a good record of what you are doing and what you have done. There is nothing more frustrating for the raiser and for future generations of clematis enthusiasts than not being able to remember details of crosses done yesterday or years ago! Of course this applies equally to seed sowing and keeping a record of sources of seed obtained and used.

I found the differing text sizes and sporadic highlighting of some paragraphs for no apparent reason a little irksome but it must be remembered, this is a copy of the web site and on that, these points are not so apparent. The illustrations are reproduced on ordinary paper, not glossy photographic paper, and as a result lack definition and clarity. However, these are minor points and what is very apparent is the overwhelming enthusiasm of the writer for his hobby. I am sure once read, this volume will tempt more into the fascinating world of raising plants from seed. Just to prove a point as I write this in February 2004 with a hard frost on the ground, I have noticed germination of seeds sown in October 2002 of C. 'Peveril Pink' one of Barry Fretwell's hybrids. I wonder what they will look like as they were open pollinated.

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Photographs of Clematis Flowers - Satomi Kuriyama and Yoshiaki Aihara

Published March 2003 by Hekitensha Co., Ltd, 1-2-5-5F, Kandajimbo-cho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-0051, Japan, www.hekitensha.com. 191 pages. ISBN 4 88346 170 X. Price believed to be between £20 and £25.

Reviewed by Mike Warren

Photographs of Clematis Flowers - Satomi Kuriyama and Yoshiaki AiharaAs the title clearly says, this is a book of photographs of the genus Clematis that is not only a record of over 400 Clematis but also a worthwhile addition to anyone's bookshelf for identification reference. Caption names do have the benefit of English names where appropriate. Without a text as such, a review like this must naturally be brief. I can say that the photography has been undertaken with care. The majority of the pictures are sharp with good colour to help with identification. There are quite a number of small-flowered species and cultivars illustrated, an area often overlooked in more popular publications. Certainly this is a book I would quite like to have on my bookshelf for reference and I can recommend it to our members.

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Clematis - Walter Hörsch

Published in 2004 by BLV Verlagsgesellschaft mbh., München, Germany, 96 pages. ISBN 3 405 16212 2. Price 7.95 Euros.

Reviewed by Hugh Leader

[Editor's note: This book is written in German. My thanks to Hugh Leader and his German language skills for this review. Should you have any difficulty in obtaining a copy, please contact Walter Hörsch at the address in the Acknowledgements section.]

Clematis - Walter HörschThis paperback book, by the same author as "Success with Clematis", is a completely new work, the result of knowledge and experience gained over the last 10 years since his previous publication. It is packed with information, photographs and descriptions of clematis.

Each species or cultivar is introduced briefly, with information on the pruning group, the size and colour of the flowers and the height of the plant. There is a year-round summary of the flowering sequence of the clematis varieties from month to month and a botanical and historical overview.

Helpful suggestions for choosing and buying clematis are given, with recommendations for using them on walls and pergolas, with roses, shrubs and trees, as ground cover, in shady places or in containers. There are also good ideas for combining clematis with other plants.

As stated in the opening paragraph, too many clematis plants die early because of unsuitable treatment. We have all heard about clematis being "difficult". Walter Hörsch writes here for the gardener with comparatively limited experience. He deals with planting, pruning, pests and diseases and also offers suggestions for propagation by several methods.

So far this latest guide is available only in German, written as it is for those German gardeners who need practical advice but who may not be able to cope with the many books printed in English. This is a problem Walter has identified for some years and it is clear that interest in clematis is growing in Germany, as it is in other parts of eastern and northern Europe. Appropriately for a handbook written for the gardener rather than the expert, the book includes almost every one of the types recommended by the I.Cl.S. in our Recommended Clematis. There is also a short section giving useful addresses and a short bibliography. The book is of course indexed.

Anyone with some German would find this little book a useful addition to the Garden Library, even the experienced enthusiast. It is attractive, clear and nicely illustrated, with flower colours generally well represented. Perfection in that area is of course almost impossible to achieve every time, if only because Nature does it so much more accurately than we can.

A well organized if unpretentious book, it must be good value at only 7.95 Euros.

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