Clematis selection before 1990 and a little after that

Clematis selection before 1990 and a little after that

A little bit – because with the advent of the Internet there is so much information that it is impossible to fit it into the format of an article. New varieties appear every year, and new names in breeding – although not every year, but quite often. Therefore, I will not touch on modernity in this article – we will only talk about the history of selection.

By the beginning of the 19th century clematis became a popular ornamental plant in Europe and the USA. It became fashionable, gardeners were actively interested in new species and forms, and nurseries tried to meet this demand. Therefore, having accumulated a sufficient number of natural and not so natural forms of clematis, florists and botanists seriously undertook to improve them.

Great Britain

The pioneers in clematis breeding were, of course, the British. In 1835, O. Henderson obtained a hybrid of clematis integrifolia (Clematis integrifolia) and clematis violet (Clematis viticella). He named the resulting hybrid Clematis xeriostemon Hendersonii. In the literature of different years it may also be referred to as Clematis eriostemon Denne or Clematis intermedia Bonamy.

Clematis xeriostemon Hendersonii

Clematis xeriostemon Hendersonii

In 1858, Jackman’s Nursery created the hybrid clematis Jackmanii (Jackmani) with dark blue-purple flowers. In 1863 it received a first class diploma at the Kensington Exhibition. This variety is still popular today – it is relatively unpretentious, with abundant and prolonged flowering.

Clematis Jackmani greatly impressed flower growers of the time and gave impetus to the development of clematis breeding in all forms. Within a couple of decades, several hundred hybrid forms of clematis were created in Great Britain. In 1872 Moore and the already known to us Jackman published the book «Clematis as a Garden Flower» (Clematis as a Garden Flower. T Moore, G. Jackman, Surrey, 1872). The book was reprinted in 1877. The book described 93 species and forms and 220 hybrid varieties of clematis.

Picture from book "Clematis as a Garden Flower"
Picture from book «Clematis as a Garden Flower», published in 1872

The varieties described in the book were exhibited at British shows from 1862 to 1877, where they were available to both specialists and the general public. 55 of them received a first class certificate.

Many of the classic varieties described in Moore and Jackman’s book are still grown today. These are:

  • Duchess of Edinburg;
  • Fairy Queen;
  • Guilding Star;
  • Jackmanii;
  • Lucie Lemoine;
  • Miss Bateman;
  • Madame Van Houtte;
  • Mrs. Cholmondeley;
  • Mrs Hope;
  • Proteus;
  • Sensation;
  • Star of India;
  • The President;
  • Victoria.

The most productive breeders of this period were G. Jackman, (38 varieties or 47%), C. Noble, (18 varieties or 23%), and V. Crips ( 17 varieties or 21%).

The remaining breeders have managed to create single varieties that have received certification.

The second major British clematis grower was E. Markham. His variety “Ernest Markham” with large red (unfortunately, with a touch of purple) flowers is still very popular. Markham had other varieties as well. He was also the author of the monograph “The Large and Small Flowered Clematis and their Cultivation in the Open Air”. It went through three editions – in 1935, 1939 and 1952. Markham himself sadly died in 1937.

Clematis «Ernest Markham»
Clematis «Ernest Markham»

In 1950, clematis breeding was taken up by Richard and Everett Pennell (Walter Richard Pennell 1865-1955, Walter Everett Pennell 1910-1977), the sixth generation of Pennells to own and operate Pennels Garden Centers@. This company is referred to as Lincoln’s Nursery in Riekstiney’s book.

The Pennells were growing and selling clematis long before they started breeding, but it was their own selection that made them world famous. Even today these varieties are sold and grown in many countries around the world. The most famous are:

  • Annabelle;
  • Bracebridge Star;
  • Charissima;
  • C.W. Dowman;
  • Elizabeth Foster;
  • Herbert Jonson;
  • H.F. Young;
  • Jim Hollis;
  • John Warren;
  • Kathleen Weeler;
  • Keith Richardson;
  • Ken Donson;
  • Lincoln Star;
  • Mrs N. Thomson;
  • Pennel’s Purity;
  • Percy Lake;
  • Percy Robinson;
  • Richard Pennell;
  • Saturn;
  • Scartho Gem;
  • Susan Allsop;
  • Veronica’s Choise;
  • Violet Elizabeth;
  • Vyvyan Pennell;
  • Walter Pennell;
  • Will Goodwin.

Another famous British breeder is Raymond Evison, founder of the Guernsey Clematis Nursery. He was born in 1944 and started professional horticulture in 1959, at the age of 15. He established the nursery on the Isle of Gurnsey in 1984. Both the nursery and, apparently, Raymond Evison himself are still alive today – at least he looks good in the 2015 video. Over the last 12 years, Guernsey Nursery has won 28 Chelsea Flower Show gold medals, including 13 for new clematis varieties.

In 1979 Raymond Evison published the book “Making most of Clematis”. He also founded the International Clematis Society and brought together specialists and amateurs from many countries around the world.

Raymond Evison's book "Producing More Clematis"
Разные издания книги Раймонда Эвисона "Производим больше клематисов"

Jim Fisk was a great authority among clematis growers. Born in 1912, he left school in 1926 to work at Notcutts Nursery in Suffolk. During the Second World War he served in the Navy. After his discharge, he invested the money he had earned during his service in establishing Fisk’s Clematis Nursery in Westleton, Suffolk. He was involved in the development of new varieties, as well as the introduction of different species and varieties of clematis created by breeders from around the world. His nursery was one of the first to exhibit clematis at the Chelsea Flower Show. Fisk himself wrote the book “Clematis. The Queen of Climbers”, which has gone through at least 4 editions.

Jim Fisk worked at his nursery for over 50 years – back in 1999, he was very active at the age of 87. He passed away in 2004.


Clematis alpina Tage Lundell

Sweden is known for its rather strong clematis nurseries and breeders. An important advantage of Swedish varieties is their winter hardiness. The climate in Sweden is comparable to that of the Leningrad region: therefore Swedish clematis successfully winter in most regions of Russia.

One of the most respected Swedish breeders was Magnus Johnson from Södertälje. Magnus Johnson was born in 1907, and in 1931 he started working as an apprentice gardener. A few years later he opened his own nursery, where he began breeding and then selecting clematis. Specialists of the nursery, headed by Johnson himself, bred about 120 new varieties. The best known of these are Carmencita, Cassiopea, Titania (1952), Neodynamia (1957) and Phoenix (1958).

Of the other Swedish clematis breeders, John Gudmundsson and Tage Lundell are noted in the Riekstinei book. Among the famous varieties created by them are the alpine clematis ‘Tage Lundell’ from the Atragene group, ‘Dawn’, ‘Corona’, ‘Ivan Olsson’ and ‘Serenata’.


Niobe  - polish clematis variety
Clematis Niobe

The Polish school of clematis breeding is known and respected all over the world. One of the first major breeders of the Polish school was Wladyslaw Noll. He created the fantastic clematis “Halina Noll” with white flowers and the equally fantastic ‘Niobe’ with velvety dark red flowers. In addition, he is also responsible for the following varieties:

  • Batalionov Zoski;
  • General Sikorski (результат спонтанной мутации сорта «Barbara Dibley»);
  • Parasola;
  • Gabriel Narutovicz;
  • Stefan Starzhynski;
  • Maksimilian Kolbe;
  • Obroncov Westerplatte;
  • Pervoj Brygady Legionow;
  • Dzieci Warszawy;
  • Lwowskie Orleta;
  • Marszalek Pildudski;
  • Armii Krajowej.

Obviously, Wladyslaw Noll was a desperate Polish patriot – you can tell by the names of the varieties. Unfortunately, many of these varieties were not propagated and put into commercial circulation. After Wladyslaw Noll’s death, part of his collection was irretrievably lost.

The varieties of Stefan Franczak, horticulturist, breeder and Jesuit monk, are known far beyond the borders of Poland. Stefan Franczak was born in 1917 into a peasant family. He received an agricultural education (even two). In 1948, when he was old enough, Stefan Franczak joined the Jesuit order and was involved in the order’s garden and flower garden for a long time.

Clematis Warszawska Nike
Clematis Warszawska Nike – polish breeding variety

Brother Stefan created his first clematis variety in 1975, almost at retirement age. Subsequently, he achieved great success in breeding ornamental plants and obtained about 80 varieties, about 60 of which were registered. He owns the varieties:

  • Błękitny Anioł (Blue Angel);
  • Kardynał Wyszyński;
  • Warszawska Nike;
  • Polish Spirit;
  • Westerplatte;
  • Emilia Plater;
  • Kacper;
  • Jan Paweł II;
  • Matka Urszula Ledóchowska;
  • Bałtyk;
  • Dorota;
  • Monte Cassino;
  • Fryderyk Chopin;
  • Matka Siedliska;
  • Anna Karolina;
  • Danuta;
  • Dominika;
  • Sympatia;
  • Syrena;
  • Marcelina;
  • Słowianka;
  • Solina;
  • Czarna Madonna;
  • Juliusz Słowacki;
  • Monika
Clematis Jerzy Popieluzsko

Clematis Jerzy Popieluzsko

Today the center of the Polish clematis school is the excellent nursery of Szczepan Marczynski and Wladyslaw Piotrowsky “Clematis Zrodlo Dobrych Pnaczy”, located near Pruszkow. Among the varieties created in this nursery, we should mention:

  • Barbara;
  • Hania;
  • Julka;
  • Lech Walesa;
  • Jerzy Popieluzsko;
  • Solidarnosc;
  • Polonez;
  • Mazowsze;
  • Mazury;
  • Beautiful Bride;
  • Diamond Ball;
  • Lemon Dream.

The nursery is active and successful: new varieties appear every year.


Holland has been a major center of world floriculture since the days of tulip fever. In breeding and selection of clematis Dutch flower growers are also very strong. By the way, the International Center for registration of new clematis varieties is located just in Holland, in the city of Wageningen (Wageningen). The main nurseries and breeding centers are located in Boskop.

'Zobast' clematis variety

Clematis Zobast

The most famous Dutch breeders are considered to be Marinus Koster (Marinus Koster, variety ‘Margot Koster’ from the Viticella group) and Wim Snoeijer (Wim Snoeijer, varieties ‘Zobast’, ‘Zodaque’, ‘Zofori’ and others).


American nurseries breed and sell clematis by the hundreds of thousands, but there is very little information about American varieties. Even the website of the All America Selections competition does not mention clematis once.


Canada, with its harsh winters, is completely unsuited to growing clematis, but even that doesn’t stop the most persistent. Frank L Skinner of Manitoba has been working for years to develop winter-hardy clematis varieties, sensibly reasoning that large-flowered forms have no chance of survival in Manitoba and concentrating on more winter-hardy species including Atragene sibirica, Clematis tangutica, Atragene macropetala and more. The most famous Skinner’s hybrids are considered to be:

  • Blue Boy;
  • Blue Bird;
  • White Swan;
  • Golden Cross;
  • Grace;
  • Western Virgin;
  • Pamela;
  • Rosy O’Grady.
Clematis Rosy O grady

Clematis Rosy O`Grady

Many of Skinner’s hybrids were lost after his death. His friends and colleagues have tried to preserve and restore some of his legacy, but what has come of it I do not know.


Already by the end of the 80s of the last century about 200 varieties of clematis were created in Japan, and now there are probably much more. At the same time in Russia varieties of Japanese selection are extremely rare. Their descriptions are (or will be) in our catalog of clematis varieties, but it is impossible to buy many of them in Russia. We have only the variety “Primrose” selection K. Wada. In Europe you can also buy clematis varieties:

  • Kawasaki;
  • Ena;
  • Fujimusume;
  • Yumedono;
  • Komurasaki;
  • Rasiandra;
  • Asao;
  • Kakio;
  • Tsuzuki;
  • Miss Tokyo;
  • Unzen;
  • Gekkyuden;
  • Asagasumi;
  • Edo Murasaki;
  • Hakuba;
  • Teshio;
  • Shiratae;
  • Yamato;
  • Kochio;
  • Josan-no-Sato;
  • Ajisai.

About the author

Fedor Fironov
Graduate of Plant Protection Faculty at GSAU. Main area of interest – clematis, peonies and perennials of Lamiaceae .

Read also:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top