Clematis, The President

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Name: Clematis ‘The President’
Hardy: Fully hardy
Height: 3 metres (10ft)
Flowers: RHS Award of Garden Merit. Bred by Charles Noble in 1876, clematis ‘The President’ is a hybrid between C. x jackmanii and C. patens. The deep purple flowers (do not easily fade in the sun) are 15cm (6in) with silver on the reverse and reddish-purple stamens. Attractive wispy seed heads after the flowers fade.

of Charles Noble, 

Charles Noble was born in Bromham, near Bedford in the UK, in 1817. His father, also Charles, was a gardener married to Ann Herman of Bromham.

It would appear that he followed in his father’s footsteps being a gardener until he went into partnership with John Standish in 1846 when he was 29 and this venture lasted for ten years. It was called the Sunningdale Nursery and was located near Bagshott, Surrey. At the height of its business it extended more or less for one mile along each side of a main road which was a busy route for horse-drawn coaches.

Charles Noble is described as a difficult man with an uncertain temper. Apparently customers were quite often the victim of his bullying ways. He did not always see eye to eye with Standish who was a mild mannered individual.

Both men had made their mark during the partnership and were well regarded by plant hunters and benefactors of the day. Besides their own comprehensive catalogue, they sold plants obtained by Robert Fortune on his China expedition between 1843-1846.

After the partnership split up, Noble stayed at Sunningdale and Standish moved on. It seems that Noble’s clematis hybridisation dates from this later period. He is credited with introducing many clematis cultivars mainly by crossing C. ‘Standishii’ with C. ‘Fortunei’ and various forms of C. patens.

Noble retired in 1898 and disappeared into obscurity. The place and date of his death are not known.

This latter extract rifled from Clematis on the Web – an indefatigable resource I’ve come across before. Very, very useful for a budding clemantarian/clematologist.

One question stands though. Which ‘President’? Ulysses S Grant was President on the United States – the 1876 election wasn’t decided until 1877 when Rutherford Hayes took the chair. Or is it simply a term meaning ‘top dog’ for this excellent climber?

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