Clematis need lime.
It is an old belief that clematis need plenty of lime, and it was often recommended that mortar rubble should be buried under a clematis when planting one. I have also heard people claim a clematis growing in clay soil was only succeeding because it was against brick wall, no doubt ignoring the Rhododendron growing beside it! The fact is clematis aren’t that fussy regarding soil and will happily grow any reasonable garden soil.
Clematis tangutica flowers.
This charming clematis spices is quite different from the large flowered cultivars usually grown in gardens. The small pixie hat flowers make up for their small size by their numbers which appear from June through into autumn when they can be seen with typical feathery clematis seed heads. While not as showy as the large flowered cultivars Clematis tangutica (Maxim.)Korch. is a lot less demanding than these tend to be. Like all clematis any reasonable garden soil and aspect is suitable and the small flowers and dense foliage make it more successful in exposed locations where the large flowered cultivars would be pull apart by the wind.
Its vigorous, dense foliage makes it an excellent choice of covering walls and fences. It will reach 4.5 m to 5 m but is not as vigorous as Clematis Montana which tends to rapidly smooth whatever it is intended to grow over. Left to their own devices it will grow quiet happily un-pruned but it can appear untidy. Alternatively they can be cut back as hard as needed in winter though this will delay the start of flowering the following year.
The inside of a Clematis tangutica flower.
C. tangutica is very similar to C. orientalis L., the clematis grower Christopher Lloyd admitted he at times struggled to tell the two apart. The main distinguishing feature is that C. orientais has narrower leaves. Originally C.tangutica was classified in 1889 as a variety of C. orientais by Carl Maximowicz a Russian botanist who travelled widely in the orient. Subsequently Sergei Korshinsky another Russian botanist placed it in a species of its own in 1898. It first reached the UK from St. Petersburg in 1898, but has since been reintroduced from its native habitat in Mongolia and North West China.
Species Plantarum by Carl Linnaeus
Hillers Manual of Trees and Shrubs
Clematis by Christopher Lloyd
The Well-Tempered Garden by Christopher Lloyd
William Keble Martin was an amateur botanist in the must noble tradition of amateurs. That is to say he was not employed as one but was every bit as skilled and dedicated as any “professional” botanists. He was formally trained as a botanist but instead of following this path chose to be ordained and spent his entire working life working as a parish priest.
Throughout his life though he maintained his keen interest in botany and over a period of over sixty years studied and drew over 1400 native British plants in exquisite detail. It was not until he was 88 years old was this collection first published. These days the work of botanical illustrators is over looked, having been pushed aside by the ease, speed and ultimately cost of photography. The draw back of this is that a photograph can only ever be one example of a plant on a particular occasion, but plants are far more viable than this. The blunt tool of the camera can never isolate and capture the spirit or soul of a plant in the way a skilled artist can. Therefore the simple skilled illustrations in this book gives the reader a far clearer understanding of what a plant actually looks like than a “modern” glossy book ever can. I don’t know what lead Rev. Martin t to paint all these plants but I very much doubt anyone will try to repeat his work partly because he has already done it and partly because as he working away, colour photography was evolving from a laboratory experiment into mainstream use.
What he left us was though a remarkable tool for identifying British plants. Some of the names have moved on but still the modern alternative can readily be found by cross referencing with new publications. Sadly this book is no longer in print but can be found ridiculously cheap on the second-hand book market. . In a perfect world a publisher would take these illustrations and re-publisher them with up-to-date names but I don’t imagine the economics of the book world would make this a practical proposition.
The species is the basic unit that we divide living things into and originally species were seen as clearly distinct from one another. What puzzled scientist was how species appeared in the first place? The answer was species evolved from other species as a result of a battle for survival; as carefully argued in Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species by Means of natural Selection or, The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”. As is often the case the answer to this question produced a second question; if species appear as the result of a gradual change from one species into a second, where does one species stop and the next start. This argument will keep taxonomist in work so long as there are species to classify!
Clearly this makes a precise definition of what a species is impossible and whether a plant belongs in a separate species to another is the result of a consensus being formed. This consensus though is not fixed and has to be open to debate.
Species is also the basic unit of plant and animal scientific names and the name of a species is the combination of both the genus and species names. The rules for how a species name is structured is defined by International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants (as it is now known) and this goes into great details; but some of the important rules are:
- With in any genus no two species can have the same name or one that could cause confusion with others.
- For plants; the species name cannot be the same as the genus it belongs in, unlike animal names. So Rattus rattus, the black rat, is a valid name for an animal but the style would be unacceptable for a plant.
- Importantly the species is always begun with a lower case letter,
- The genus should be written immediately before it (the genus can be abbreviated to its first letter if it does not risk causing confusion) and both the genus and species should be in italics or if not practical underlined.
Anyone who dismisses ivies as just green climbers should take the time to look through this book by Peter Rose. The current 1996 edition is still in print and regarded as a standard work on the subject of garden Ivies. Peter Rose (1916 – 1997) gained a National Diploma in Horticulture at Wisley before working as a commercial nurseryman before joining the Ministry of Agriculture as a Plant Health Inspector. He developed a special interest in ivies and wrote extensively on the subject, developing an international reputation for his knowledge.
The book is a development for one of his earlier ones, simply titled “Ivies” and published in 1980. Peter was a horticulturalist not botanist and his book is very much written from that prospective. The first four chapters cover the background to ivies, including their history, uses, biology and naming; but in a manner that non botanist will find very accessible. The fifth chapter takes up about 60% of the book and is an A to Z of the different ivies. Over 285 different ivies are described in detail with notes on their habit, appearance and history with extensive use of colour photographs. The final two chapters deal with the use and cultivation of ivies in the garden.
Being 16 years old will hamper the book a little, as some of the botany has moved on, but the book was so well researched and written in the first place it is still very relevant today. It has the added advantage that ivies are a sadly over look group of plants – often relegated to quickly covering an eyesore – so they have not seen the influx of new varieties a “fashionable” plant does.