This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
By Alphonse Lavallee, Paris, published by J. B. Bail-liere et Fils, 1884.
This beautiful work is issued to give a full account, with illustrations, of all the more beautiful species of Clematis which adorn our gardens. In it we find excellent pictures of twenty-two so-called species, with which horticulturists are more or less familiar. Of American kinds, we have C. crispa, C. Pitcheri, C. reticulata, C. Viorna, C. Sargenti, and C. Texensis, the fifth named being a new one of his own description, given here for the first time, and named in honor of Professor Sargent. It seems allied to C. reticulata. It is, however, no easy task to decide what is a species, or what is but a mere sport or variation. We do not think botanists in the old world have advanced nearly as fast in the knowledge of variation in nature as have the botanists of America. In the preface to this work, Mr. Lavallee seems surprised that, if Clematis Jackmanii be a hybrid, as is generally believed it should have the "rare merit' of reproducing itself from seeds, and in this way acquire all the properties of a species, and be able to constitute a new race; and simply from this consideration, he is inclined to regard it as a distinct Japan species, venturing to name it over again as Clematis Hako-nensis. But, surely, the fertility of hybrids is no longer a question of rare merit, nor is there any longer a doubt about the hereditary powers, as well as the fertility, of these peculiar creations.
Then, again, the natural variations among Clematises are known to those who raise them freely from seeds, as very wide - especially when the seeds come from some particular locality. On the writer's grounds, there are a few hundred plants of Clematis Pitcheri, from a correspondent in Texas, most likely from a single, wild plant, or from plants growing within a few feet of each other, and one may make half a dozen species, if so disposed, quite as good in character as are given in botanical works. In fact, what is, or what is not a species, has come to be nothing more nor less than a matter of experience. Some things are found to vary easily, there the specific characters must be drawn so as to cover all these variations. Those which do not vary so easily, may have the line more closely drawn.
So far as horticulturists are concerned, these questions are of little moment. Though they be but variations, they are distinct enough to have names, and whether Clematis Sargenti, C. cocci-nea, C. Pitcheri, or others, be regarded as varieties or species, the names will be convenient as representing things of distinct horticultural value. It will be a welcome addition to the libraries of those who love beautiful things.