Clematis, from Greek, a tendril; in allusion to the climbing habits of most of the species. The species are mostly climbing shrubs, or herbaceous perennials, of rapid growth, free bloomers, very ornamental, and some are highly odoriferous.
C. Virginicum is a native plant, well known as a great climber, growing profusely upon the banks of our rivers and wet places; taking possession and covering all the shrubs in its neighborhood, to which it attaches itself by its petioles, which are given off, at intervals, in pairs, twining round objects for support, and serving the purpose of tendrils. The flowers are white, borne upon cymes, and make a handsome appearance the beginning of August. The most remarkable appearance of this plant is when in fruit; the long feathery tails of seeds separating like tufts of wool. It grows twenty feet or more in a season, most of which perishes, leaving but a small portion shrubby. It makes an appropriate covering for an arbor or wall; for, whether in flower or seed, it is ornamental.
C. alpina, or erecta, is strictly an herbaceous plant, growing from three to four feet high, producing large families of white flowers in August. It requires support, as it has the propensity to attach itself to everything in its neighborhood, like the last, by its petioles.
Clematis integrifolia. - Entire-leaved. - A handsome, upright plant, about two feet high, producing nodding, bell-shaped, blue flowers, most of the season.
C. vitacella is a much admired species, with blue flowers, which are produced from June to September, on long peduncless from the axils of the leaves; rather bell-shaped, and nodding It is a climber, growing from eight to ten feet in a season dying down to the ground, in this climate, but otherwise hardy, There is a variety with double flowers, others with brownish red flowers, and several improved varieties.
C. fiammula is a luxuriant climber, producing clusters of small white flowers, in August and September.
C. florida has large white flowers; like the last, a luxuriant climber. There is a variety with double flowers.
C. Sieboldii. - Siebold's Virgin's Bower. - This magnificent plant is said to be a variety of C. florida, and, till lately, treated as a green-house plant, but which has proved as hardy as the other sorts. The flowers are three or four inches in diameter, the outer sepals, or petals, a creamy white, filled up with others, disposed of in many series, the groundwork of which is white, suffused with a rich purple. No plant possesses a stronger claim to a place in the flower-garden, from its graceful habit, and from the size and beauty of its blossoms.
The plant thrives best in a mixture of loam and peat, and is increased by layers. It was introduced by Dr. Siebold, from Japan, a few years since. I have kept it two winters, by covering it lightly with coarse manure.
C. azurea grandiflora, or Great-flowering Blue Virgin's Bower, has still larger flowers than the variety Sieboldii. It has the reputation of being more tender, requiring greater heat to bring it to perfection. With me, it stood near the other species two winters, with the same protection. The flowers are produced only on the old wood; it is necessary, therefore, to lay down, and cover the growth of the season, to insure bloom the next year. The flowers are four or five inches in diameter, of a rich blue, in July; a climber, like the last, but not of so robust growth.
Besides the species and varieties enumerated, there are many others, esteemed ornamental.