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.
Adapted extracts from Charles Noble of Sunningdale by Everett Leeds in The Clematis Winter 2000, with the permission of its editor and the author.
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