I.Cl.S. - Book Reviews

Book Reviews by Members of the I.Cl.S. in Clematis International 2011

  1. Clematis - An essential guide by Ruth and Jonathan Gooch
  2. Clematis - over 100 beautiful varieties by Andromeda Matz & Krister Cedergren
  3. ELULÕNGAD igasse aeda (Clematis To Every Garden) by Erika Mahhov
  4. The Clematis as a Garden Flower by Thomas Moore and George Jackman
  5. Clematis Flammula by Lambert M. Surhone, Mariam T. Tenroe, Susan F. Henssonow (Ed.)
  6. Clematis Lanuginosa by Lambert M. Surhone, Mariam T. Tenroe, Susan F. Henssonow (Ed.)

Clematis - An essential guide by Ruth and Jonathan Gooch

Publication expected early May 2011 by The Crowood Press, www.crowood.com, 256 pages, many pictures, language English, hardback, 18.9 cm × 24.6 cm, ISBN 978-1-84797-251-4. Price £25.00.

Clematis - An essential guide by Ruth and Jonathan GoochReviewed by Fiona Woolfenden

[Editor's note: My thanks to Crowood Press for providing both a black and white proof copy and electronic colour copy of one section for this review, written prior to the publication date. However this does mean that it is not possible to give definitive comment on colour rendition of the pictures.] This is a "must have" book for Clematis enthusiasts and although I've only seen a draft copy and an electronic version of a section, I'm eagerly awaiting a copy of the actual book. Ruth and Jon hope to have it available at Chelsea at the end of May.

It is a greatly revised version of the 1996 book, generally following a similar layout and chapters but with 440 photos which greatly improve the look and feel, especially the number of full page pictures of clematis, pruning, etc.

The chapter on Plant Hunters and Breeders has been updated. It is sad to see how much revision this chapter has needed when compared to the previous version, due to the death of so many famous names.

The chapters covering the many different ways of growing clematis, although somewhat similar to the previous issue, have been updated and continue to offer very sound advice. The suggested clematis for growing in different situations has been revised, although this wasn't obvious to me initially as the list of clematis to grow with roses has changed little. Perhaps this shows how recent introductions are more suitable for containers than the garden.

The section that has been updated the most is Clematis Profiles, now containing details of 400 clematis cultivars (according to the press details, I did not actually count them!). There are three or four clematis described on every page including the essential details (flowering period, aspect, pruning, height etc.) plus, for some, a personalized comment from Ruth and Jon of their experience of growing them.

There are photos of most clematis and they look sharp and accurate for colour from the draft copy that I have seen. My only criticism is that the pictures within the clematis profiles are on the small side. But, of course, without doing that, the book would be twice the size - and probably twice the price!

The clematis are listed alphabetically under their "common name" to avoid naming confusion, with group information provided separately; including Diversifolia referenced as a separate group.

It is 10 years since "An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Clematis" was published. Since then there have been many new cultivars, the majority of which are probably listed for the first time in this book. Examples include C. 'Tie Dye' and C. 'Celebration', along with a large number bred by Raymond Evison and Wim Snoeijer, and introductions from Japan.

In fact this book probably contains the most comprehensive list of current cultivars of any recent publication (one or two nursery catalogues excepted!).

For those of us that like a book to browse this will be a very useful addition to our library, both for its advice and the up-to-date plant profiles.

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Clematis - over 100 beautiful varieties by Andromeda Matz & Krister Cedergren

Published 2010 by New Holland Publishers (UK) Ltd., www.newhollandpublishers.com, 157 pages, more than 100 pictures, language English, hardback, 19 cm × 22.5 cm, ISBN 978-1-84773-691-8. Price £15 but may be available online for less.

Clematis - over 100 beautiful varieties by Andromeda Matz & Krister CedergrenReview by Fiona Woolfenden

This book was first published in 2008 in Swedish. It has been translated into English in 2010 and there are some phrases that are not quite correct in English. It has all the usual growing information succinctly but adequately covered including comments from the authors' experiences of growing clematis. The proportion of space taken up by photos is bigger than text so I would categorize the book as a nice present for a friend rather than an informative book for the clematis enthusiast - but I enjoyed reading it.

In the section containing clematis types to grow, most of the clematis featured are known as good garden growers, with the Viticella group presented first. The pictures in this section are large close ups of the flowers although there are some garden shots elsewhere in the book. Generally the photos are good though there are a few that are blurred.

The special thing for me about this book was the small section called "The originators of the modern clematis" which contains information about Magnus Johnson, Tage Lundell and John Gudmundsson; the latter is someone that I had not heard of before. There is also information on one of the authors, Krister Cedergren, and the varieties that he has bred, one of which I grow (C. 'Jenny'). Also scattered throughout the book are mention and photos of other clematis bred by Krister.

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ELULÕNGAD igasse aeda (Clematis To Every Garden) by Erika Mahhov

Published by Menu Kirjastus, 256 pages, over 300 pictures and illustrations, language Estonian, hardback, 19 cm × 24.5 cm, ISBN 978-9949-4700-2-0. Price believed around 20 Euro.

ELULÕNGAD igasse aeda (Clematis To Every Garden) by Erika MahhovReview by Fiona Woolfenden

Written in Estonian this is a very well presented and substantial book with the text and photos attractively arranged.

Unfortunately I cannot understand it but a note at the end of the book in English says that it is based on the 35 year experience of the author's family which I can believe as it looks to be full of information on different types of clematis, planting, pruning, propagation, training, growing on different types of supports, division and preparing clematis for the winter.

I can see from the photographs that the first chapter deals with the history of clematis, European breeders including Estonian breeders and clematarians such as Guido Toovere, Uno Kivistik, Erich Pranno and Eino Kala.

The pictures are generally good but I find that the grey background to a number of them, especially smaller pictures, makes the photo appear dark. However, this is balanced by a number of pictures of clematis growing in combination with other clematis or different plants in the garden which show good colour combinations and provide ideas on which plants to grow together.

The main part of the book provides information on about 90 clematis cultivars which look as if they are listed alphabetically within the usual Clematis Group classifications.

Generally there is one clematis cultivar to a page with a substantial description including information about its origins. For each of the clematis featured there is at least one large photo and there are only a few that do not look accurate.

The clematis featured are generally either well tried varieties or those of Estonian origin. There are quite a large number of smaller flowered clematis suitable for a hardy climate.

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The Clematis as a Garden Flower by Thomas Moore and George Jackman

Published in 2010 by BiblioBazaar, an imprint of Bibliolife which in turn is a project of Bibliolabs LLC, www.bibliolabs.com, 206 pages, illustrated (but see review), ISBN 978-1-14-399943-7. Price approximately £17.00 or less.

The Clematis as a Garden Flower by Thomas Moore and George JackmanReviewed by Roy Nunn

[Editor's note: The following statement appears within the product description of this book on at least one online shop from which it can be bought.
"This is an EXACT reproduction of a book published before 1923. This IS NOT an OCR'd book with strange characters, introduced typographical errors, and jumbled words. This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artefact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book."]

A reprinted copy of the original 1872 book, the text is readable but not copied with care as torn pages are not repaired before they were scanned. It is also a shame that some of the illustrations were not unfolded before copies were made. This means only a third of some images are reproduced. [Ed: see below.]

The Book Cover is confusing as it depicts a field of wheat, what this has to do with a book about Clematis I am not sure. Having said this; this is a book for which the original is not readily available and therefore is likely to be expensive. Being a relatively cheap reproduction of the original text, it is a must for those interested in the history of Clematis.

This paperback version of the original has, I suspect, been digitally scanned and then laser printed to give a generally clear image of the text, but some areas of small text are only just readable, possibly due to the copying of unclear text in the original. The work consists of a forward of 13 pages (of which one page describes the possibility of "occasional imperfections" in the following main work of 157 pages, there are also 17 black and white reproductions of plates, 4 of which have been ruined, as they are folded plates that have not been opened up during the scanning process, of the 13 other plates 7 are of C. 'Jackmanii' this obviously being Jackman's pride and joy which he wishes to advertise.

Plate from The Clematis as a Garden Flower by Thomas Moore and George Jackman   Plate from The Clematis as a Garden Flower by Thomas Moore and George Jackman

The book consists of 18 Chapters, covering subjects as diverse as;

  1. Modern (1880's) hybrids from English and European Nurseries
  2. Classification into groups and definitions
  3. Selections for Conservatory, bedding out, for pillars pole rockwork and rooteries and exhibition work etc.
  4. General Culture of Groups, Montana, Patens and Florida; Soil, planting, manuring, Training and Pruning
  5. General Culture of the Graveolens type
  6. General Culture of Lanuginosa type
  7. General Culture of the Viticella type
  8. General Culture of the Non-climbing herbaceous types
  9. Culture of Clematis for the Conservatory
  10. Clematis as wall plants
  11. Clematis as bedding plants
  12. Clematis as Pillar Plants
  13. Clematis on Rock and root work
  14. Special culture of Clematis as Exhibition Plants
  15. List of Certified plants at Metropolitan Shows from 1862 to 1870
  16. Hints on Hybridizing and sowing seed
  17. Classified list of hardy species and varieties of Clematis
  18. Descriptive notes of species and varieties of hardy Clematis.

As to the readability of the book, it is in typical Victorian garb, as noted by its title (why use one word when more will do). It is interesting to see how many of the species are still available, but with name changes, C. angustifolia is listed having returned to this name after a period as hexapetala. It is interesting to note that lots of the hybrids have disappeared over the years, so it is worth seeking out those listed in the book that are still available, which will have undergone the test of time.

I was somewhat surprised at the lack of Atragene species or hybrids, but looking further into this it appears that only C. alpina may have been available to them at this time. The pruning groups are described, but I found the description of pruning group 1 or A clematis somewhat confusing.

The book also divides clematis into 8 cultural groups, which at the time was possibly a helpful consideration, but today this grouping would be considered outdated.

There is a glowing reference to C. viticella and subsequent hybrids which highlights their hardiness, ease of cultivation and generally prolific show of flowers, something I wholeheartedly agree with.

Overall I found the book informative and interesting to the Historian, shame about the inappropriate cover, torn pages and the folded plates.

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Clematis Flammula by Lambert M. Surhone, Mariam T. Tenroe, Susan F. Henssonow (Ed.)Clematis Flammula by Lambert M. Surhone, Mariam T. Tenroe, Susan F. Henssonow (Ed.)

Published in 2011 by Betascript Publishing, owned I believe by VDM Publishing House Ltd., Mauritius, distributed by Morebooks Publishing through themselves and various other outlets, 68 pages, language English, paperback, ISBN 978-613-3-52210-7. Price 29 Euro.


Clematis Lanuginosa by Lambert M. Surhone, Mariam T. Tenroe, Susan F. Henssonow (Ed.)Clematis Lanuginosa by Lambert M. Surhone, Mariam T. Tenroe, Susan F. Henssonow (Ed.)

Published in 2011 by Betascript Publishing, owned I believe by VDM Publishing House Ltd., Mauritius, distributed by Morebooks Publishing through themselves and various other outlets, 68 pages, language English, paperback, ISBN 978-613-3-52237-4. Price 29 Euro.

Reviewed by Roy Nunn

[Editor's note: I'd like to thank Betascript Publishing for providing the Society with electronic review copies of these two publications

I came across these titles, both by the same authors and publisher and both 68 pages long, whilst browsing the online book seller, Amazon. There appear to be at least 20 other titles related to clematis by the same authors and publisher and all are also 68 pages long. I do not know whether the content of the titles which we have not seen is the same as the two that we have seen.

Betascript state quite clearly that the content of these publications comes from the online website, Wikipedia.

Finally I'd like to thank Roy Nunn for agreeing to review these two publications.]

Having been sent the above two books to review, I was somewhat excited that a 68 page tome had been produced on a little known but recently rediscovered Clematis, but was a little suspicious that 68 pages could be written on any one clematis.

After reading the book on C. lanuginosa, which took all of half an hour, I thumbed through the second book on C. flammula, only to find that it had exactly the same content but arranged in a different order as the first book.

Basically the description for C. lanuginosa just occupies a few lines (100 words) on one page of each book. The C. flammula entry as expected has more information but only occupies 186 words, but in both cases there is no botanical description of the plant.

All entries seem to be directly copied from the Wikipedia Website, there is also a picture and basic reference copied from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) website, even the picture shown is not of species lanuginosa, but C. 'Nelly Moser'. In fact the description in the Morebooks Publishing website, listed as the distributors, occupies more space than the text of C. lanuginosa in the book. The remainder of the book consists of various descriptions of other Clematis that also appear in Wikipedia, which amounts to about 37 pages plus pictures and classification from the USDA, the remainder being occupied by descriptions of some of the Ranunculaceae species and general descriptions of plant botany, also a few pages are taken up with rights issues and disclaimer (small print), plus three blank pages.

On looking at the Betascript website, it states that its information is openly obtained directly from Wikipedia and other open publications where it is lawful to do so. But it is worth bearing in mind that information produced on Wikipedia may not have been verified by experts in its field and the content of the book bears the same remit. In my opinion when buying books of a technical nature it is always a good idea to buy from a well-known author, or one that has been recommended by experts in its field.

Would I buy these books or recommend our members to purchase? As the content is readily available from the Wikipedia and USDA websites there is no point in anyone with internet access paying for it. For anyone else, at 29 Euros for one of these books, it's a lot of money for a small amount of information that is unstructured, unfocussed and of questionable merit.

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