Szczepan Marczyński PhD - Clematis - Źródło Dobrych Pnączy

Szczepan Marczyński PhD


Dr inż. Szczepan Marczyński

Graduated from the Horticulture Faculty at the Warsaw Agricultural University (SGGW) in 1969 and received a doctoral degree in 1973; he completed his post doctorate studies at Cornell University, N.Y., U.S.A. (1977-78). In 1987 - 1988 he spent 8 months at the Research Station for Nursery Stock in Boskoop, Holland. From 1970 to mid-nineties he worked as a researcher and lecturer at the Warsaw Agricultural University in Poland. As an author or a contributor he has published 15 scientific papers, 4 books and over 100 extension and popular articles. He gave several dozen lectures and talks in Poland and in the United States, Canada, China, the Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, France and Hungary. In 1988, together with MSc. Władysław Piotrowski, he established a clematis nursery, which is now located in Pruszków (Poland) “Clematis The Source Good Climbers”. In search of new plants has visited nearly all European countries as well as the U.S.A., Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and China. He has breaded and introduced to the marked more than 80 varieties of Clematis and nine varieties of other climbers. Some of them win prizes at international exhibitions and trails in Poland and abroad. Member of the International Plant Propagators' Society, the International Clematis Society (its President 2004-2008), the British Clematis Society and the Polish Nurserymen Association (the Chairman in 1997-2000 and in 2009-2012) and an honorary member of the Polish Dendrology Society and Polish Association of Garden Centers.

Władysław Noll and His Clematis

Szczepan Marczyński

Władysław August Noll was the first Polish breeder of Clematis. In the 60’s and 70’s of the 20th century he raised and named over a dozen of valuable Clematis cultivars. Unfortunately, after his sudden death in 1978 most of them became lost and the publication of unconfirmed information discredited him undeservedly.

Fig. 1 Władysław Noll (on the right side of the picture)
Marszałkowska street, Warsaw, 10.07.1934

I never met Władysław Noll in person. In 1995, having just moved our nursery to Pruszków I started the collection of Clematis and other garden vines and at the same time I was completing their documentation. At the time I encountered only cursory information about Władysław Noll and his cultivars in the book "Powojniki" by Bolesław Sękowski (1987). Only in 2004 I managed to contact his grandson Andrzej Frycz and to obtain some information and materials. However, our contact was soon broken. I was deemed the source of the accusations against W. Noll of  appropriating Brother Stefan Franczak cultivar ‘Jadwiga Teresa’ and renaming her as ‘Generał Sikorski’ (I will return to this subject at the end of my article). I revived contact with W. Noll's family in November 2013 and from his great-grandson Jan Frycz I obtained additional (although still very modest) information  and materials, including photographs.


Władysław August Noll was born in May 1900 in Warsaw. His parents were Stanisław and Helena born Życzyńska. He completed agricultural studies acquiring the engineer's degree and around 1925 he started collecting and growing medicinal plants. In 1928 during his visit at the Weiss family home in Złoczów near Lvov he visited their Clematis collection and was presented with  4 cultivars. He fell under the spell of these plants, started developing the collection and he took them to his every subsequent location – Poznań, Zamość, Sopot, Warsaw. He worked at Agricultural Bank, the Provincial Court, Jaworscy company and he was also the president of The Sopot's Fishermen Cooperative 'Rybak' (Fig. 1).  In 1937 he married Aniela Patro, and in 1938 their daughter Halina was born. They didn't have more children.

Fig. 2 Silver Cross of Merit with Swords, Cross of Valour
and Virtuti Militari Silver Cros

In September 1939 after German invasion of Poland, W. Noll fought in the battle of Warsaw, leading as a lieutnant  a company of 201 Infantry Regiment. During the German occupation that followed, he took random jobs and later founded his own little construction company. Since 1940 involved in the anti-German resistant movement (conspiration), participated in various sabotage actions in the Praga district of Warsaw as a member of The Polish Home Army (AK). During the Warsaw Rising that started on 1st August 1944 he fought under 'Gustaw-Orlicz' pseudonym,  first in Stare Miasto and then in Śródmieście districts; he was injured in battle. For his bravery and courage during the Stare Miasto fight he received 3 important military distinctions: Silver Cross of Merit with Swords, Cross of Valour and Virtuti Militari Silver Cross (Fig. 2 and 3) and he was promoted to captain. From 26th August he was a staff member of the 'Północ' group.  After the capitulation he mingled in the civilian convoy which he then escaped, crossed the Wisła river and joined the Polish People's Army which was a part of the Soviet Army at the time. He continued the fight, amongst others in the battle for liberation of Warsaw in January 1945. 

Fig. 3 Award Certificates for Silver Cross of Merit with Swords, Cross of Valour and Virtuti Militari Silver Cross 


Fig. 4  Władysław Noll

After the war he worked in various public institutions such as Film Polski,  Totalizator Sportowy and the Fine Arts Academy in Warsaw, usually as the Chief Accountant or CFO. W. Noll (Fig. 4) lived in Warsaw in Kaliska Street and since 1963 in Okrężna Street in Sadyba district in a semi-detached house with a 350 m2  garden. That was where he was building his Clematis collection. In 1969, using compensation money for the land in Zamość taken by state, he bought 3300 m2  land with a house in Bielawa village (Konstancin-Jeziorna commune), 20 km south of Warsaw. He moved  his Clematis there and significantly developed the collection. It soon numbered over 200 cultivars, mainly large-flowered ones. W.Noll also raised and selected new cultivars, which he gave patriotic names in honour of great Poles (e.g. ‘Marszałek Piłsudski’ / 'Marshal Pilsudski', ‘Żwirko i Wigura’ / 'Zwirko and Wigura', ‘Generał Sikorski’/'General Sikorski', ‘Maksymilian Kolbe’, ‘Lwowskie Orlęta’ 'Lvov Eaglets', ‘Stefan Starzyński’, ‘Gabriel Narutowicz’, ‘I Brygady Legionów' / '1st Brigade of The Polish Legions', ‘Obrońców Westerplatte’ / 'Westerplatte Defenders'), The Home Army (e.g. ‘Armii Krajowej’ / 'The Home Army', ‘Generał Rowecki’ / 'General Rowecki', ‘Generał Wachnowski’ / 'General Wachnowski', ‘Antoni Kocjan’) and the Warsaw Rising (‘Moja Warszawa’ / 'My Warsaw', ‘Dzieci Warszawy’/ 'Children of Warsaw', ‘Batalionu Zośka i Parasol’ / 'Zośka and Parasol Battalion', ‘Łączniczek AK’ / 'Home Army Messengers', ‘Lekarzy AK’ / 'Home Army Doctors').

2nd of July 1977 an article
about Władysław Noll was published
in "Express Wieczorny"
24th of October 1976
publcation in "Przyjaciółka"

Due to the modesty of space he propagated Clematis in a limited scope, mainly by layering.  He commisioned the propagation to others, e.g. a nurseryman from the south of Poland and to Brother Stefan Franczak.

At least two illustrated texts about Władysław Noll and his Clematis were published in the Polish press: in the 43rd issue of Przyjaciółka weekly magazine dated 24th October 1976 (p. 11) and in the most popular daily newspaper Express Wieczorny of 2nd July 1977.

Władysław Noll died suddenly of a stroke on 24th August 1978. The quarelling family did not secure his collection and documentation. A lot of the plants were stolen from his garden while others, deprived of care, died or lost their labels. A majority of his documents were burnt. Many cultivars that existed as single specimen disappeared, others remained un-labelled or became mixed. Only ‘Niobe’ and ‘Generał Sikorski’ remained in the wide circulation. 

Fig. 5  Jim Fisk's letter dated 31st October 1972

He maintained a prolific correspondence concerning Clematis (the purchase of new cultivars, exchange or offering of his own cultivars, methods of cultivation, fertilization, disease prevention and exhibition of the plants) with nurseries, collectioners, botanical gardens, amongst others in Great Britain (e.g. Jim Fisk, Hillier & Sons, Treasures of Tenbury, Jackmans of Woking, the Royal Gardens of Windsor), USA (American Horticultural Society, Steffen Clematis, Gilbert H. Wild and Son, George Clematis), Germany (Botanical Gardens in Dortmund and Dusseldorf, Horticultural Exhibition in Erfurt and IGA in Hamburg), USSR (Botanical Garden in Yalta). Probably the most lively was the exchange of letters with Jim Fisk. I own copies of over a dozen letters. In a 1970 letter (an exact date missing) W. Noll told J. Fisk about his ‘Halina Noll’ cultivar and in the letter of  14th December 1971 he thanked for the confirmation of the arrival of 3 undamaged cultivars (‘Generał Sikorski’, ‘Marszałek Piłsudski’ and ‘Niobe’ – the phytosanitary certificate of the shipment, dated  11th November 1971, remains). J. Fisk in the letter of 17th April 1971 writes that  ‘Halina Noll’ came into flower in the glasshouse and on 2nd July he writes again to say that it bloomed beautifully in the garden making a great impression on the visitors and that in spring  ‘Niobe’ also bloomed in the glasshouse displaying delightful flowers of color unprecedented in Clematis. J. Fisk further informs that it is his intention to exhibit the cultivar to the public only after propagating it in sufficient numbers.

Fig. 6  Fragment of p. 35 J. Fisk's book „The Queen of Climbers”, 1975

In his letter of 31st October 1972 (Fig. 5) he wrote that  ‘Generał Sikorski’ flowered nicely, it was however remindful of ‘Ascotensis’. On page 35 of his book The Queen of Climbers from 1975 Jim Fisk mentioned W. Noll and his ‘Niobe’  (Fig. 6) and further on he described and included photographs of this cultivar as well as of ‘Halina Noll’. He introduced both cultivars in the market in the same year. According to the data published in Fisk Clematis catalogue, ‘Niobe’ was awarded gold medal at the Hersfstweelde '78 show in Booskop, Holland. ‘Generał Sikorski’ was introduced by J. Fisk only in 1980, probably because it seemed to him for a long time too similar to others, already popular cultivars. It had been introduced in the Polish market a couple of years earlier.

I attempt to assemble the collection of Polish cultivars of Clematis by means of browsing catalogues, asking friends and advertising in the press. This way I discovered in Poland ‘Dzieci Warszawy’/ 'Children of Warsaw', ‘Książę Albert Belgijski’ / 'Prince Albert of Belgium',  ‘Gabriel Narutowicz’ and ‘Maksymilian Kolbe’, but I came across ‘Halina Noll’ in the Brewster Rogerson Clematis Collection, U.S.A. and thanks to Brewster Rogerson’s and Linda Beutler's kindness I reintroduced it in the country of its origin.  I am still looking for the for the other lost cultivars. 

Descripton of cultivars

in Szczepan Marczyński collection raised by Władysław Noll. All of them belong to Early Large-flowered  

Clematis 'Dzieci Warszawy'
  • ‘Dzieci Warszawy’

    Pale violet flowers, 12–17 cm diameter, comprising 8 slightly wavy tepals, 6–8 cm long and 3-4 cm wide, are borne in June-August. In autumn a deep crimson-violet bar develops along the center of the sepals. White at the base and shading into pink filaments bear purple anthers. Growing up to 2 m. All aspects. Suitable for growing over trellises, poles and other garden supports, as well as for climbing over natural supports.

    Warsaw Children. Named in commemoration of the young participants of the Warsaw Uprising (August 1st - October 3rd 1944) and of the conspiracy movement in Warsaw during the World War II. These adolescents acted as liaisons, as well as took part in sabotage actions and direct fights for the freedom of Warsaw and Poland.

Clematis 'Gabriel Narutowicz'
  • ‘Gabriel Narutowicz’

    Variety with pink-violet flowers, 15-20 cm across, composed of 6-8 tepals, 7–10 long and 4–5 cm wide. Purple anthers on long creamy-pink filaments. Blooms from June to August. It grows up to 2 m high. All aspects. Useful for growing on trellises, sticks and other garden supports. It can climb over natural supports, such as deciduous and coniferous bushes or dwarf shrubs that don’t require hard pruning.

    Commemorate first Polish president elected in 1922. He was shot by assassin.

Clematis 'Generał Sikorski'
  • ‘Generał Sikorski’ One of the most popular varieties. Mid-blue flowers, reddish at the base of the sepals, 13–16 cm across,  composed of 6-8 tepals, 6–8 long and 4–5 cm wide. Purple anthers on long creamy-pink filaments. Blooms from June to August. are profusely borne June-July and continue to October. Excellent for growing over fences, walls, arbors, pergolas, trellises and wooden supports, particularly out of full sun. It can clamber over natural supports e.g. deciduous and coniferous bushes and dwarf shrubs. Suitable for cultivation in containers.

    Named in honour of Władysław Eugeniusz Sikorski (1881-1943), a Polish general and politician who rendered great service to our country. After the German conquest of Poland in September 1939, he became Prime Minister of the Polish government in exile that was based first in France, and then in England. He was also the commander-in-chief of the Polish air forces that fought alongside the Allies, and of the underground Home Army in occupied Poland. He died on July 4, 1943, in the airplane crash near Gibraltar, in hitherto not established circumstances.

Clematis 'Halina Noll'
  • ‘Halina Noll’ White flowers, tinged with light pink, full on old wood and single on new growth, 15-17 cm across. Sepals vary from oval to diamond-shape, 4-8 cm long and 1.5-3 cm wide. Anthers are yellow on creamy filaments. Flowers are borne on old wood in May-June and reappear on new shoots at the end of July and in August. Reaches 2.5-4 m height. Thrives in sunny locations and looks particularly attractive displayed against dark background. Suitable for growing along trellises, poles and other kinds of lower garden supports. It could climb over natural supports such as deciduous or coniferous shrubs. Named after Władysław Noll only daughter.
Clematis 'Książe Albert Belgijski'
  • ‘Książę Albert Belgijski’ Pale violet-blue-pink flowers, 15–17 cm diameter, comprising 8-9 slightly wavy tepals, 7–8 cm long and 4-4.5 cm wide, are borne in June-August. In autumn a crimson-violet bar develops along the center of the sepals. White at the base and shading into pink filaments bear purple anthers. Growing up to 2.5 m. All aspects. Suitable for growing over trellises, poles and other garden supports, as well as for climbing over natural supports.

    Named after Prince Albert. He became later King of Belgium Albert II in a period 1993 – 2013.

Clematis 'Maksymilian Kolbe'
  • ‘Maksymilian Kolbe’ Star-shaped lilac-pink flowers, 15-18 cm across, composed of 6-8 tepals, 7.5-10 cm long and 2.5-4.5 cm wide, with a pinkish central bar and slightly wavy edges, turn light violet with age. Purple cream anthers on creamy filaments. Main flush of flowers in May-June, and a second small one in July-August. It grows 3 m high. All aspects except south.  Useful for growing on trellises, poles and other garden supports.

    Named to honor saint of roman catholic church - Maximilian Maria Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan friar, who volunteered to die in place of a stranger in the German death camp of Auschwitz, located in German-occupied Poland during World War II.

Clematis 'Niobe'
  • ‘Niobe’ One of the most popular varieties. Large, velvet, very deep red flowers, on the beginning near black,  with yellow anthers. Just after opening blooms appear almost black. Very free-flowering June and August - September. Growing to up 2 m high. Any position. Excellent for growing over fences, walls, arbors, pergolas, trellises and wooden supports. It can clamber over natural supports e.g. deciduous and coniferous bushes and dwarf shrubs. Suitable for cultivation in containers.

    Named for a woman in Greek mythology whom Zeus turned into a rock, and whose children were killed by deities.

An article based on my publication in „Clematis International 2014” (p. 82–93), „International Clematis Society” mounthly edition.


  • Fisk J., „The Queen of Climbers”, Fisk’s Clematis Nursery, Westleton 1995, s. 22, 26, 35, 44, 80, 82, 91.
  • Fisk Clematis, Fisk Clematis Nursery, s. 12.
  • Franczak S., rękopis, s.26.
  • Sękowski B.,  „Powojniki”, PWRiL, Warszawa 1987, s. 23, 30–31,96, 101, 107, 167, 178. 


Explanation of the misunderstanding concerning ‘Generał Sikorski’ origins 

Szczepan Marczyński

I would like to explain here the misunderstanding concernig ‘Generał Sikorski’ origins, that arised over a decade ago in the Clematarians milieu.

Clematis 'Generał Sikorski'

Around 1996 Brother Stefan Franczak told me that he reckoned ‘Generał Sikorski’ to be identical with his cultivar ‘Jadwiga Teresa’ and that he blamed Władysław Noll for appropriating the cultivar. When I asked for an explanation, he said that around 1970 he promised to propagate Clematis for W. Noll and was paid for his work in advance. As many of the cuttings died, he was in trouble. The Rector of Jesuit Collegium advised him to offer other plants in exchange. At the time Brother Franczak only had a few good specimen of his own yet unnamed seedlings and he delivered those to Noll. I expressed my surpise that he had grown both cultivars for so many years and had described them in his writings without any suspicion arising or any attempt to clarify the matter when W. Noll was still alive.  He said he had never thought such a thing could happen.

Not long after that conversation Raymond Evison asked me to share information about Generał Sikorski and the cultivar named after him for the purpose of an article in The Garden. I sent him detailed information and I mentioned that Brother Stefan accuses W. Noll of approprieting his cultivar. I never assuming that R. Evison would publish this information without further investigation. Following the publication in The Garden (March 1997 p. 195, reprinted in Clematis International 1996/7 p. 54-55), Victoria Matthews contacted Stefan Franczak and based on the information thus received, she wrote for Clematis International 1999 (p. 44) an article in which she repeated the allegation of Noll's renaming as ‘Generał Sikorski’ the cultivar 'Jadwiga Teresa', raised by Brother Franczak in 1965 and introduced in 1975. In an extensive letter to Victoria Matthews I explained that the matter was not clear, as Brother Franczak had not told me that he had offered to W. Noll a named plant. I also emphasized that it seemed unusual not to notice the similarity for so many years and to reveal suspicions only 20 years after W. Noll's death. Mary Tooey and Everett Leed went even further in their book An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Clematis published in 2001. They ignored ‘Generał Sikorski’ cultivar altogether, stating  without reservations that Władysław Noll renamed the cultivar and that it should correctly be called ‘Jadwiga Teresa’ (p. 231). The confusion was growing. Victoria Matthews partly took my objections into account and acknowledged in The International Clematis Register and Checklist 2002 (p. 112) that the correct name of the cultivar is ‘Generał Sikorski’, although she further explained that it was almost certain that W. Noll renamed the cultivar. All this took place over 20 years after the death of one party, without confirmation in any documents, only  based on one person's statement. My doubts were to some extent taken into consideration by Mary Toomey in her Timber Press Pocket Guide To Clematis (pp. 91- 92) where she included a description and a photograph of  ‘Generał Sikorski’ and ignored ‘Jadwiga Teresa’ cultivar, although without any explanation.

I was never in posession of ‘Jadwiga Teresa’ cultivar so I did not compare these two cultivars and I suspect that neither did any of the judges in this matter. 

Fig. 7  Notebook of Brother Stefan Franczak
from 1972 showing seedling No. 32
has been given the name‘Jadwiga Teresa’

The matter reached a conclusion a couple of years after Brother Franczak's death, when I tracked down his notebook with chronological record of seedlings he found. It occured after I accidentally discovered that all the papers and slides remained after his death were to be destroyed. With the Jesuits permission I secured those that still survived. Stefan Franczak described all the seedlings he found in the number and year order. Over the years he filled in the descriptions, the additions - either dated or not- placed next to the original notes. That was where he wrote down the name of a cultivar if he decided to name one.  It was difficult to comprehend the notes, not to mention making use of them.  I was also afraid to damage the precious document while browsing the pages. That is why I asked one of my employees to copy the contents to the Excel sheet and to scan each page referring it to a number of a seedling. The resulting material was  presented a couple of years ago to a small group of people including Duncan Donald. The descriptions in the notebook begin in 1970. The first one is a seedling numebered 1-70, later named ‘Solina’.

The seedling 32-72 which, according to the additional note dated 1973, was given the name of ‘Jadwiga Teresa’, was first mentioned in 1972. (Fig. 7). Why Brother Stefan laid claim on ‘Generał Sikorski’ at the end of the 90. when at the time of the first mention of 'Jadwiga Teresa' in Franczak's notebook W. Noll's cultivar was already blooming in Jim Fisk's garden, I do not know. Human's memory is unreliable, especially at the older age. At the time I maintained frequent contacts with Stefan Franczak and I realized that he often forgot or confused facts.

This whole story teaches us a lesson that any such public allegations should be levelled more carefully.  The registers and publications should be corrected and Władysław Noll's family is owed an apology.

An article based on my publication in „Clematis International 2014” (p. 82–93), „International Clematis Society” mounthly edition.


  • Evison R.  „The Garden”, Clematis ‘General Sikorski’, Vol. 122, Part 3, March 1997, s. 195.
  • Evison R.  „Clematis International 1996/7”, Clematis ‘General Sikorski’, s. 54–55.
  • Fisk J., „The Queen of Climbers”, Fisk’s Clematis Nursery, Westleton 1995, s. 22, 26, 35, 44, 80, 82, 91.
  • „Fisk Clematis”, bez daty, Fisk Clematis Nursery, s. 12.
  • Franczak S., rękopis, s.26.
  • Matthews V., „Clematis International 1999”, ‘General Sikorski’&‘Jadwiga Teresa’,  s. 44.
  • Matthews V., „Clematis Register & Checklist 2002”, The Royal Horticulture Society, London 2002, s. 112.
  • Sękowski B.,  „Powojniki”, PWRiL, Warszawa 1987, s. 23, 30–31, 96, 101, 107, 167, 178.
  • Toomey M. and Leeds Everett, “An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Clematis” Timber Press Inc., Portland 2001, str. 231
  • Toomey M., „Timber Press Pocket Guid To Clematis”, Timber Press Inc., Portland 2006, s. 91–92.