These are the Sears, Henry and Co. flowering vine recommendations for your garden, presented by The Heirloom Orchardist. The following plant descriptions are gleaned from books and periodicals intended originally for our plant-loving ancestors. Many of these classic vines were newly introduced in the late 1800’s.
Here, we provide an opportunity to purchase specimens of several heirloom vine varieties, as well as high-quality prints of the colorful artwork depicting each vine, as provided in the 1893 Sears, Henry and Co. Nursery Catalog.
Heirloom Boston Ivy
Boston Ivy is a beautiful, hardy deciduous climber. Once known as Ampelopsis veitchii (around the turn of the century, and before), its botanical name is now Parthenosisus tricuspidata. Boston Ivy’s glossy, dark green, three-lobed leaves display a pink blush in the Spring when they first emerge. These become lush green leaves for the Summer, before turning bright red in the fall. – The Heirloom Orchardist
“This interesting climbing plant, on the front and side of my residence, is again attracting a great deal of attention this year. The plants on the front or east side of the house were set out in the fall of 1869, receiving slight protection the first winter, and since then without any protection whatever they have proven perfectly hardy. They have grown very luxuriantly, completely covering the wall with a dense mass of beautiful, bright, glossy green foliage in the summer, turning to crimson scarlet of every shade and hue during the autumn.” - Vick’s Monthly Magazine, George S. Conover, Geneva, N.Y.; 1878
“No plant is as useful as this for covering walls, stumps, or trees, etc. Will cling closely to a stone or brick wall, without artificial support, and will make a dense, handsome covering of great beauty. One of the best climbers." - Sears, Henry and Co. Nursery Catalog, 1893
“The species of Clematis are most attractive and valuable climbers, being easily grown, of graceful habits, and possessing magnificent flowering qualities. They will thrive in any good soil which is enriched, and by protecting the roots by a slight covering over them each fall, they stand the severest winters safely.” Ornamental Gardening for Americans, Elias A. Long, 1899
"Jackman’s Clematis (C. jackmanii) is one of the best sorts, and well known, being free of growth, and a most abundant bloomer, the flowers being a rich violet-blue color” Elias A. Long, 1899
Clematis Jackmanii. "Now well known and justly appreciated as one of the best of the many varieties of this popular hardy climbing plant." - Sears, Henry and Co. Nursery Catalog, 1893
“The Scarlet Clematis (C. coccinea) is a quite distinct species, with scarlet flowers, having yellow centers.” Elias A. Long, 1899
"A handsome climbing plant, growing of the height of 10 to 12 feet, commencing to flower in June, and blooms continuously until frost, a perennial plant dying down to the surface each winter; hardy, vigorous." - Sears, Henry and Co. Nursery Catalog, 1893
White Clematis - “If you have your home place planted, just plant one more thing, if you haven’t got it, and that is the White Clematis. There is no question (that it stands) just about where the Crimson Rambler Rose does. Usually the best way to place it is, in some choice location, by a veranda or fence, or garden wall.” Report of the Iowa State Horticultural Society for the year 1909, W.M Bromberger, 1909
Clematis - Perpetual White. "All the varieties of the Clematis are very beautiful, hardy and rapid growing, free-flowering vines, well adapted for verandas, porches, etc." - Sears, Henry and Co. Nursery Catalog, 1893
Be careful with this one. Halls Honeysuckle is a wonderful heirloom. . . it's very fragrant, and the hummingbirds love it. . . but it can get out of control, and it's invasive. - The Heirloom Orchardist
"Hall's Honeysuckle (is) well worth growing if only for its deliciously fragrant flowers and, on their account, it is one of the most popular climbers in cultivation. It needs wire netting or a lattice to twine about, which makes it a practical vine for piazza posts and painted houses, as the woven wire or other support may have its staples loosened at the top and be laid back on the ground when the biennial coat of paint goes on the house. Honeysuckle is cheap enough to plant at every post in the chicken yard and afford shelter and shade for the fowls as well as a screen for their not always sightly runs. It is one of the few vines that will thrive at the seashore, and it blooms all summer there because of the moisture in the cool air. Especially fragrant, to attract the night-flying moths.” American Flower Garden, Neltje Blanchan, 1909
“Hall's Climbing Japan Honeysuckle. Nearly an evergreen climber, retaining its leaves until midwinter, and well adapted to covering screens; it flowers in abundance from July to December, and it is most fragrant of all the varieties." - Sears, Henry and Co. Nursery Catalog, 1893