Clematis of the Month, July 2015 – The Fabulous Texensis Clan


Clematis texensis, a species clematis from the river banks of Texas.

What a summer we had this year!  Zero rain coupled with excessive heat (at least as far as Seattleites are concerned).  Blech!  I didn’t have the spirit to venture into the garden half the time because so many plants, clematis included, were suffering–in spite of irrigation (as much as I could afford, anyway).

Even so, I managed to take a few photos in my hot and arid Pacific Northwest garden (sounds like an oxymoron!).  The standouts in July turned out to be the heat-loving Clematis texensis clan, including the first flowers from my first-to-bloom C. texensis species (see photo).  The tulip-shaped blossoms in the species range from scarlet to dark pink, with white, red, or yellow coloring on the inside of the petals.  Blooming above C. texensis in this photo are the light blue bells of another species, C. crispa.

In the late 1800s European hybridizers loved the red color and tulip shapes of the blossoms of C. texensis and used it extensively in their hybridizing programs.  More than one clematis expert has told me that almost all red and dark-pink clematis are descended from C. texensis!

Also blooming in my garden in July were two texensis hybrids :  C. Ville de Lyon climbing up a Decaisnea tree (also called Dead Man’s Fingers for it’s steely blue finger-like seed pods) and C. Catherine Clanwilliam.


Clematis Ville de Lyon, a C. texensis progeny originally hybridized in France in the late 1800s.



Clematis Catherine Clanwilliam, another child of C. texensis, this one hybridized more recently by British hybridizer, Barry Fretwell.


Clematis at the Arboretum Spring Plant Sale

florabundanceThe quintessential spring plant sale every year in Seattle is the Washington Park Arboretum’s Sale, and I was there last night for the opening day of this three-day event.   The sale has many vendors with interesting and unusual plants, and the Arboretum itself sells plants from its greenhouses.

And wouldn’t you know it!  T&L, a wholesale nursery specializing in groundcovers and clematis, was there!  Yikes!  I just finished getting all my plants, including clematis, in the ground.  What to do?  What to do?  Well, I took a deep breath and decided to severely limit myself to bringing home only two of the 30 or 40 varieties they had on offer.  Since I first saw it  with its 8-10″ two-toned pink blossoms at a garden tour in Portland, I’ve wanted Clematis Fireworks.   I also found Clematis Kiri Te Kanawa, a beautiful blue double hybridized by one of my favorite clematarians, Barry Fretwell.  Hmmm, now I have to decide where to plant these two June bloomers.  A few other plants also demanded that I take them home, and even my husband bought three plants himself (his taste runs to gunnera and other odd plants).

My eagle eye also spotted Clematis recta purpurea, I think somewhere in the vicinity of the Langley Gardens display, and Clematis recta ‘Lime Close’ (aka Serious Black) at Sundquist Nursery’s stand.   In earlier posts, I’ve described both of these purple-leaved clematis with fragrant white flowers.

The Arboretum Sale goes through tomorrow (Sunday, April 28), so if you’re in the Seattle area, head on over there. 

Oh, and then there’s the Master Gardener Plant Sale at the Center for Urban Horticulture next weekend!

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