Clematis are the speciality and subject of expertise of the designer of the Victor Hugo Garden, plantsman Raymond Evison OBE, VMH, FLS. They have been planted throughout the Garden. Victor Hugo used the clematis as a symbol of the kind of natural wildness and informality he so esteemed.
When he came out of his dream, he looked at nature again,
He spoke to the cloud, a haphazard wanderer,
Migrant in the blue sky;
He said; ‘How chaste is your incense, o clematis!
He said to the gentle birds: How tiny your wing is,
Yet how vastly you can fly?’
‘Let’s save liberty, liberty saves the rest.’
Choses vues, 1851
‘Any increase in liberty brings a parallel increase in responsibility. There is nothing more serious than being free; liberty weighs heavy and all those physical chains she removes from us she adds to our conscience.’
Actes et paroles III, Depuis l’exil (After exile)
‘Déruchette was not a Paris girl, but nor was she a Guernsey girl either. She was born in St Peter Port, but Mess Lethierry had brought her up. He had brought her up to be pretty, and she was pretty. Her gaze was indolent, agressive, too, although she didn’t realise it.’
Victor Hugo’s faithful and devoted lover for 50 years, Juliette Drouet, had met the author and poet in Paris, where she made a living (just) as an artist’s model and an actress; but she had been born Julienne Gauvain in Fougères, in Brittany.
This clematis was bred by the Victor Hugo Garden’s designer, Raymond Evison, in 2005. A popular and free-flowering cultivar, it is still in production. Raymond has planted it in the Wild Garden.
‘If I die, I will leave Georges and Jeanne to the nation.’
Jeanne and Georges Hugo, the children of Hugo’s son Charles, were Victor Hugo’s only grandchildren. When they were very young their father Charles died unexpectedly and Victor Hugo became their guardian, devoting himself to their education and welfare.
When his other son, François -Victor, died just three years later, Hugo wrote:
‘Oh! I have a deep faith. I will see you all again, you whom I love and who love me. Another rupture, and it is a supreme rupture, in my life. I have nothing left for the future now except Georges and Jeanne.’ Choses Vues (Things Seen), 26 December 1873.
Georges and Jeanne are closely associated with Guernsey and Hauteville House, which they inherited from their grandfather in 1885 along with 20, Hauteville, Juliette Drouet’s former residence.
The garden planting also includes a Fuschsia, ‘Belle Jeanne‘, and Auricula ‘Jeanne’.