ABOUT THE AUTHOR
The expert here is Dr. John Howells, with 40 years experience of growing clematis. John Howells is the author of several clematis books including Growing Clematis: A Plantsman's Guide to Clematis; The Rose and the Clematis as Good Companions; Trouble Free Clematis: The Viticellas; Choosing Your Clematis. He is currently clematis correspondent to Garden News. A former Member of Council of the International Clematis Society, he was also editor of its publication Clematis International. As Past Chairman of the British Clematis Society and formerly Editor of its journal, The Clematis, Dr Howells is now an elected lifelong 'Honorary Member' of that Society.
After medical training he served in the II World War with an infantry battalion as its Medical Officer. Following the War he trained in neurology at the Institute of Neurology and in psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, both of the University of London. Almost immediately he became Director of a research institute affiliated to the University of Cambridge. Thus began a lifetime of research - in the complex field of experiential psychopathology. A world tour in 1960 led to global travel over the years, principally for medical interests, but also taking in the world's flora.
Arising from his experiences, he joined no political party, but became a fervent internationalist. A theological training, coincident with his medical training, left him as an ever-questioning Christian agnostic humanist. His 48 medical books included the editorship of a 12 volume international medical encyclopaedia. His writings, over 300 scientific papers in the international literature, were mainly clinical with a special historical bent. A two-volume work was the Academic Book of the Year in the USA in 1985. For 30 years he has worked on a large scale work on the psychopathology of Shakespeare's plays.
John Howells retired into two worlds - the world of clematis and the world of Italian opera. Naturally he had a propensity to research both areas. In opera this was to the theme of the contribution of Verdi's personality to his music.
His garden is on the highest point in Suffolk, England; this is not very high but high enough for cold winds. The soil is sandy and flinty. The soil and the cold wind make for difficult growing. Compensation is a supreme view of the Constable Country. The acre and a half containone of the largest private collections of clematis in the world - over 500 plants. He needs to share his travail in growing clematis in such a place with others - the fortunate and the less fortunate. One year he kept a daily diary. That will be found here. He has a great admiration for gardeners. Without them there would be no horticulture, no nurseries, no botanical departments. The gardener has knowledge of his own and he has a duty to communicate this to others. Above all he believes in peripatetic research - the gardener as he tills his garden can undertake straightforward systematic enquiry which can bring meaningful results. Thus gardeners share knowledge with fellow gardeners. He has tried to follow those precepts in his own garden, and on this website.
Dr. John Howells, 1918 - 2007
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