This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V21", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
In your January number Professor C. S. Sargent objects to the Climbing Hydrangea being called a new plant, beause Siebold had figured it in his Flora of Japan in 1839. Surely a plant may have been so figured and described and yet be "new" when it is actually introduced into another country, and there for the first time have a living existence. In the Flora of Japan referred to, Siebold at that time figured and described a number of plants new to Europe and America, such as Trochodendron aralioides, Styrax obassia, several hydrangeas, etc, and when they were introduced into cultivation twenty-five or thirty years afterwards by Mr. Thomas Hogg and other collectors, they were welcomed as new plants, just as we welcomed the Climbing Hydrangea (which I was under the impression that Mr. Hogg was the first to introduce).
But Mr. Sargent makes even a worse charge against the Climbing Hydrangea than its want of novelty, for he says: "if it is new to gardens it is only because it has never seemed worth introducing into them before." Now the fact that Siebold figured and described it showed that he at least thought it worthy of a place in his work; for the book does not pretend either to describe or illustrate the botany of Japan, only the conspicuous and interesting plants-about a hundred in all. Mr. Sargent says that he distributed a large number of plants, raised from the seeds given him by Col. Clarke, yet I think I run no great risk in doubting, that in all that large number, if Mr. Sargent has yet seen a single plant in a matured condition to bloom, and if he has not, how does he know that it is not worthy of cultivation here? Against the opinion of Mr. Sargent we have the evidence of Mr. Thomas Hogg, who has made the Flora of Japan a special study. In all such matters all who know Mr. Hogg, know that no one is less likely to exaggerate than he; and when I heard him assert, that when in company with Dr. Hall they first saw the Climbing Hydrangea in full bloom, festooning the trees on the Hakone Mountains in Japan they were perfectly bewildered with the novelty and beauty of the plant.
I for one never doubted that the Schizophragma would, before long, become indispensible to our collections here. Our list of hardy climbing plants is by no means large, and we can ill afford to discard this one without giving it a fair trial. Evidently our brethren of the trade in Europe think the same, for we found that in nearly every European order received last season that the "new" Climbing Hydrangea was wanted, and that too in the face of the very high price we then sold it at.
I notice in the Gardener's Monthly a discussion on the Schizophragma hydrangeoides. I hope to send you next summer a photograph of one I know of growing on the island of Yezo, by which you may judge of its great beauty.
Col. Clark had not the advantage of seeing: this plant in its great beauty, for he did not arrive here till the end of July, 1876, when the beauty of the plant was over; and besides, that season was remarkable for drouth, when everything suffered here.
I do not suppose Col. Clark claims the credit of introducing this or the Cercidiphyllum, as I gave him the seeds which he took to the United States; and at the same time I told him of other persons in America to whom I had sent seeds some years before, and who have plants growing from these seeds. Others no doubt are claiming this credit for him without his sanction.
Those who wish to study the flora of these parts of our country will find the leading ones figured in Siebold's Flora. I have frequently met Mr. Hogg here collecting. He must have introduced many of our species.
In the December number, Mr.Edwin Lonsdale, makes inquiry of me if I had found the above plant to be hardy throughout the whole of last Winter, as when I described it in my catalogue we had only then got to 25th of December. I am happy to inform him and your readers generally, that it proved entirely hardy, not a twig being injured. To be sure last Winter was an unusually mild one, the lowest point it touched with us being zero, and that only for a day or two, twice during the entire Winter, but the Hydrangeas were planted on a bleak north-western exposure on a stiff clayey soil - conditions such as to well try the hardiness of any plant. From the result I have no hesitation in predicting that this new climbing Hydrangea, will be hardy in every situation where Hydrangea paniculata proves to be hardy, and like that grandest of all our hardy shrubs, I think it very probable that when once established, the Schizophragma will prove to be one of the finest of all our hardy climbing plants. I notice Mr. S. B. Parsons says he finds it slow of propagation; we also found it so until we began to raise it from seed.
From seed we procured plants having greatly increased vitality, so that we found no difficulty in propagating it easily from cuttings of the young wood.