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Clematis


An important genus of Ranunculaceae composed of many species of climbing shrubs and some herbs, many of which are hardy. The genus is remarkable for the large number of really ornamental species it contains, while the beauty of these is surpassed by the numerous garden varieties that are in commerce.

The uses to which the Clematises can be put are many and varied, and a place should be found for one or more in the smallest garden, while for gardens of large dimensions nothing is more effective during autumn than large groups, artistically planted, of these showy plants. For forcing the garden varieties are admirably suited, and last a long time in good condition.

For covering walls, either alone or in conjunction with Ivy or Virginian Creeper, the purple Clematises are very useful ; while for covering rough fences, pergolas, or arbours there is nothing better than one of the strong growers.

Planted in beds in the open with rough Oak branches to ramble over,the various species make picturesque groups, while for smothering an old dead tree or bush in the way that the Old Man's Beard, Clematis Vitalba, covers hedges in some parts of the country, nothing is more appropriate.

They may be propagated by seeds, cuttings, or grafts, and should be given rich loam with a free addition of lime. An annual top-dressing of farmyard manure will be found beneficial, while a biennial dressing of lime will be advantageous. The most showy species and hybrids are:

Clematis Alpina. - An early flowerer found in north Europe, and introduced in 1792. It is of robust habit, growing 12 feet high, and bearing blue flowers in April and May.

Clematis campaniflora, introduced from Portugal in 1810, grows 12 to 15 feet high, and bears white or mauve flowers in July and August.

Clematis Flammula, the sweet scented Virgin's Bower, is a European species introduced in 1596. It grows 15 feet high and bears white flowers during late summer.

Clematis florida is a Japanese species which flowers in May. The blossoms are showy.

Clematis lanuginosa is a tall growing species from China, which bears flowers 6 to 8 inches across, of a mauve colour, during summer. There are many varieties, some of which are mentioned later.

Clematis Orientalis has small yellow flowers. It makes a good sized mass, and is from the Orient. The variety Clematis Tangutica has larger and deeper coloured blooms.

Clematis patens is a showy early flowering species of which there are many garden varieties. It is a native of China and Japan, and has blue flowers.

Clematis Viticella. - This is a strong growing species introduced from south Europe in 1569. The flowers are blue and are borne in autumn. There are varieties with mauve, rose, white, and double flowers.

The garden varieties are divided into five distinct sets, as follow: The florida set, the patens set, the lanuginosa set, the Viticella set, and the Jackmanii set. The first of these flower in May, and the varieties require little or no pruning.

The patens group bloom in May and June, and no hard pruning is necessary. The lanuginosa group blossom in summer, and should have the young wood cut halfway back in February. The Jackmanii and Viticella sets flower in autumn, and require to be pruned hard back in February.