This section is from the book "The Gardener V1", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
When visiting the gardens of Lord Polwarth, Mertoun House, near St Boswell's, about the middle of September, my attention was called to a fine plant of the above, covering the whole gable of a house 20 feet by 1G, and literally one mass of bloom. Growing on an east aspect, its appearance was so extraordinary beyond anything I had ever seen before in Jackmanii, that I requested Mr Fowler, his lordship's gardener, to give me two of his men to assist in counting the blooms, and after carefully going over the plant, we found that there were close on 300 fully-expanded flowers. They possessed a peculiar richness, which arose, probably, from the plant facing the east, and being shaded from the sun after mid-day. I may mention that this plant was put out in its present position about five years ago, and in that time it has attained the above extraordinary dimensions.
The kitchen-garden here is in the old style of hill and dale; south from it there is a small flower-garden, principally filled with hardy plants of various sorts, having fine variegated foliage. Viola Perfection and V. lutea major are largely used here, and with good effect. From this there is a broad walk leading along the bottom of a deep dell to the mansion-house; on each side of this walk the banks are very steep. Lately a large number of trees have been cut down, and their places filled up with some of the newest and rarest varieties of Coni-ferae, which seem, from the growth they are making, to be just in the place that suits them.
The park here is of very considerable extent, and Mertoun has many natural advantages which add much to its beauty. The mansion-house is a modern structure of great extent, and stands on the banks of the Tweed, about five miles above Kelso. The trees have been very judiciously thinned, so that fine peeps of the river can be had from the mansion-house both up and down.
On the south side of the mansion-house there is a very nice flower-garden of considerable extent; in this, I understand, Lady Polwarth takes great interest. The bedding-out is on a very large scale, and everything is so well done and so neatly arranged, that it gives evidence of a skilful and painstaking gardener.
Returning to the Clematis, the soil in this neighbourhood seems well adapted to its culture. On visiting Gladswood, the seat of John Meiklam, Esq., which lies about three miles north from Mertoun, Mrs Meiklam has quite an assemblage of. those beautiful plants on the wall of the mansion-house, and they are so arranged that the one colour contrasts well with the other. There is the dark-purple C. Jackmanii alongside of the pure white C. Candida; and again, the whitishblue C. lanuginosa and the dark mulberry rubella. Many of those plants have attained the height of 20 feet, and flower every season in the greatest profusion. Many of the newest sorts have lately been added here, and to all appearance they will grow with the same luxuriance as the older varieties.
At Damside, the seat of the late James B. Duncan, Esq., near Auchterarder, there was a plant of C. lanuginosa put out with the intention of covering an old rustic bower: close by there was a large Rose-bush of the old single red, about 8 feet high, and bushy in proportion. Somehow or other, the Clematis was allowed to fix itself on the Rose in place of the rustic-work, and now it has taken complete possession of the Rose, and for the last two seasons it has been one sheet of flower all over the plant. At Damside the frost is as severely felt as in any part of Scotland during the winter. But here this plant has stood all the above years without any protection whatever, showing how very hardy the Clematis is, and how well it can adapt itself to circumstances when left alone. John Downie.
West Coates Nurseries, Edinburgh.
[Too much cannot be said for Clematis Jackmanii and its congeners. They thrive on a north aspect with us, and are in bloom now, November 30. - Ed].
I was always assured that Jackman's Clematis would not flower in Scotland in pegged-down beds, as I had seen them in perfection at Mr Jackman's nursery-grounds; but this year, being anxious to give them a trial, we had a bed of C. Jackmanii, C. rubella, etc, edged with Euonymus radicans variegata, which has been a complete success, and the Clematises have been in bloom since July, are still flowering, and very effective. I am curious to know if they do well in other districts of Scotland. All the hybrid varieties flowered extra well on the wall this season here. F. J. Hope.
Wardie Lodge, Edinburgh.
[Will our correspondents reply? - Ed].