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Purple Clematis

Purple Clematis

By the late Victorian age there were many hybrids of the clematis available, many based on the Clematis patens, C. lanuginosa, C, viticella and C. Fortunei. Two of the most famous were those raised by Mr. George Jackman in 1858, the C. Jackmanni and the C. rubro-violacea (pictured) which produced spectacular late summer flowerings.

Hibberd advised that, if planting hybrid varieties, they should be planted in rich soil. They must be left to their own devices for three years, then (and only then) be fed.

Once the plants became ‘leggy’ and the flowers small, then they should be cut down to within eighteen inches of the ground at the start of the year (January). In February, remove some of the soil from over the root ball (but trying not to disturb the roots) and replace it with a mixture of well-rotted manure and fresh loam, at the same time dig out a trench two feet deep and one wide, two feet from the stem, and fill this with a similar mixture. Then spread over all a coat of fat stable manure, leave the rest to nature, and enjoy the results.

Victorians grew clematis as bedding plants as well as climbers. Planted into a bed and trained over low convex shaped hoops they would form a mass of shield shaped green leaves and flowers. The Jackmanni were best for this purpose, but also Rubro-violacea, Alexandra, Magnifica, Rubella, Star of India and Tunbridgense.

See also Sweet Clematis.

Information and image taken from F. Edward Hulme and Shirley Hibberd, Familiar Garden Flowers (Cassell, Peter, Galpin and Co.: London: c. 1890), 5 vols.

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