Clematis Bells

BucklandBeauty - Copy

Clematis ‘Buckland Beauty’–beautiful bell flowers inherited from Clematis texensis.

Gardeners who have a nodding acquaintance with clematis are often only aware of the big beautiful heart-stopping, jaw-dropping blossoms of late spring.  As one becomes more and more enamored with clematis and delves deeper into the genus, the dainty beauty and wide variety of the bell-shaped flowers are the ones that captivate.

The southeastern US is a breeding ground for many bell-flowered clematis species, which have long been widely used by hybridizers to create lovely new plants.  Clematis ‘Buckland Beauty’ above, for example, is the result of a cross between Clematis texensis (a red bell-flowered species from Texas) and one of the other species.

The Texensis Clan

In my last post, I described Clematis texensis and some of its progeny.  The species, which grows in Texas, is variable.  The flowers tend to have a downward-facing bell shape, usually with recurved tips, sometimes lined with white or yellow.  The inside of the tepals can be various shades of red, yellow, or white.

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A lovely red Clematis texensis with white accents

 

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A Clematis texensis seedling with reddish-purple outer tepals, white on edges and the underside

 

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Here’s another, a bit pinker with a shorter flower.

Hybridizers discovered the wonderful red of Clematis texensis (also called the Scarlet Clematis) in the late 1800s, and still today exciting new hybrids come onto the market.  Crossing Clematis texensis with other types of clematis has resulted in an astonishing variety of new and beautiful plants, such as flatter blossoms of Clematis ‘Ville de Lyon’ and Clematis ‘Catherine Clanwilliam’ showcased in my last post.   Of course, many of the progeny have bell-shaped blossoms, like the aforementioned Clematis ‘Buckland Beauty’ and the following lovely offspring of this interesting species.

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Clematis Sonnette climbing through a variegated Azara.

 

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Clematis ‘Duchess of Albany’, hybridized using C. texensis 125 years ago!

 

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The beautiful Clematis ‘Princess Diana’

 

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Clematis Princess Kate ‘Zoprika’, one of the newest texensis hybrids coming from J. van Zoest Nursery in The Netherlands.  Photo from J. van Zoest Nursery.

The Crispas

Clematis crispa is another American species, native in the southeastern US.  This sweet small bell flower often has tepals that curl strongly back on themselves.  It comes in many soft colors–white, light blue, mauve, pink.  The crowning glory for this clematis is its beautiful light fragrance.

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One form of Clematis crispa

 

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Clematis ‘Betty Corning’, discovered growing in a garden in Albany, is clearly a Clematis crispa seedling, especially given its delightful fragrance.

 

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Clematis ‘Red Princess’ certainly looks to be a Clematis crispa hybrid, but the color suggests that Clematis texensis might be the other parent!

The Viornas

Clematis viorna, like C. crispa and C. texensis, is one of over 20 species that are native to the southeastern US and Texas, which are all grouped together in the viorna section of the genus clematis.  Clematis viorna is just one of the many clematis in the viorna section.  It has flowers in the shape of small bells or urns that come in colors like red, pink, reddish brown, and purple.  Many plants sold as the species may actually be hybrids of Clematis viorna and another clematis in the larger viorna clan.

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One of my two Clematis viorna.  This one pairs beautifully with Beauty Berry!

 

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A different Clematis viorna looking adorable on my fence

Japanese Hybrids

Many interesting clematis with bell-shaped flowers have been coming out of Japan for many years.  Joy Creek Nursery is a good source for Japanese clematis.  Below are three examples.

 

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The fragrant Clematis Kahori no Kimi–perhaps Clematis crispa is a parent?

 

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Clematis Hakuji–another Clematis crispa descendent?

 

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Clematis Shizuku–looking a little viorna-like?

The best sources I’ve found for bell flowers are Brushwood Nursery and Joy Creek Nursery.   So, come on–get one of these dainty-blossomed clematis for your very own!

 

 

 

 

 

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

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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.

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

 

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

 

August Clematis of the Month

Clematis viorna in early August, blooming away.

Clematis viorna in early August, blooming away.

C. viorna still blooming in October, color-coordinating itself with the purple beauty berry.

C. viorna still blooming in October with beauty berry.

August was a difficult month for clematis in Seattle, where we suffered the hottest summer on record, along with very little rain.  OK, OK, so some people loved it — but not me or my clems.  I’m learning the hard way that most clematis do NOT like really hot dry weather.  Many of mine took a snit and slowed down or stopped flowering altogether, AND developed crispy brown or spotted leaves.  Hrmph, not an alluring effect.

But Clematis viorna came through the hot weather like a charm, perhaps because it originates from the summer-hot southeastern US.  This clematis, which began blooming for me in late May or June, continued to sport loads of blossoms and unscathed leaves throughout the month of August, making it my garden’s Clematis of the Month for August.

Purple leaves of C. recta purpurea for the second time.

Purple leaves of C. recta purpurea for the second time.

C. recta purpura, blooming a second time in late August!

C. recta purpura, blooming a second time in late August!

The Challenger

Clematis recta purpurea was a contender this month, even though it was Clematis of the Month for July.  This clematis, which has the most beautiful rich purple foliage in the spring, bloomed wonderfully in June with small fragrant white flowers.  As noted last month, I cut it back to the ground when it finished blooming and quickly got new purple leaves, as expected.  But I did not expect it to bloom again!  Check out it’s second blooming in August!

Problem Clematis

In June and July, I cut back several clematis–hard–for various reasons.  Clematis Vancouver Morning Mist wilted in June for the FOURTH year in a row.  I cut it back to the ground and informed the culprit that my patience was gone.  In the fall, it would be OUTA HERE!  One August morning, I noticed something pink beckoning me over by the entry path.  Good gracious!  It was C. Vancouver Morning Mist opening the first of what turned out to be seven blossoms.  I must have scared the living daylights out of it!  I guess I’ll keep it.

C. Vancouver Morning Mist -- Reprieve!

C. Vancouver Morning Mist — Reprieve!

I was loosing my patience with C. Duchess of Edinburgh, too.  This clematis had one woody stem with no flowers and scorched ugly leaves.  Yuch!  I couldn’t take it.  Even though I might seriously set it back, I chopped it to about six inches.  It’s in a pot with a great-looking, heat-loving Chilean Glory Vine (probably a little crowded in there), so I didn’t miss the clematis much.  Well, to my surprise, C. Duchess of Edinburgh came back FAST with big fresh new leaves — and a bit later with several big fat buds!  The blooms were not double as they are in the spring, but they were lovely large pristine white blooms that looked great with all the greenery.  I wonder if clematis leaves grown in the cool moist spring and early summer in Seattle just aren’t programed to take our hot dry summers.  In my experience (especially this summer)  leaves that come into being in the heat of summer handle hot and dry just fine.

The Duchess Blooms!

The Duchess Blooms!

As mentioned in an earlier post, my young Clematis Tartu (with lovely large ruffled lilac blossoms in spring) succumbed to the wilt just as the first flower bud was ready to open and had to be whacked back to the ground.  Very disappointing, especially since I had it in a new ceramic pot by the patio!  But like C. Vancouver Morning Mist, this one grew back quickly and actually had several blooms in August.  Check it out!

C. Tartu blooms without wilting!

C. Tartu blooms without wilting!

What these three clematis have taught me is that if a clematis wilts, has scorched leaves, or is looking just plain ugly, go ahead and cut it back!  It may well come back and bloom again in the same year.  Some of my clematarian friends (like Debbie Fisher of Silver Star Vinery and Linda Beutler of the Rogerson Clematis Collection) have tried to tell me for years to cut them back at the drop of a hat, but I guess I just needed to see it for myself.

A Few More August Blooms

C. Beauty of Worcester blooming in August instead of spring.

C. Beauty of Worcester blooming in August instead of spring!

Clematis Freckles blooming in July instead of October!

Clematis Freckles blooming in August instead of October!

C. Kermisina blooming as expected--in August.

C. Kermisina blooming as expected–in August.

C. crispa

C. crispa

C. Little Nell (named for the young neighbor of the hybridizer)

Dainty C. Little Nell (named for the young neighbor of the hybridizer)

C. Princess Red

C. Princess Red

June Clematis of the Month & Silver Star Vinery Open THIS Weekend

Clematis of the Month for June

French C. Etoile Violette paired with American C. Betty Corning

French C. Etoile Violette paired with American C. Betty Corning

In my garden the June Clematis of the Month is actually a pair of clematis, one French and the other American:  C. Etoile Violette and C. Betty Corning.  C. Etoile Violette, hybridized in the late 1800s by a French nurseryman, is a luscious dark purple with faint hints of a red bar.  It’s French name means Tower of Purple.  This easy-care large clematis (12-14′ vines) blooms voraciously in June, July, and part of August.  A great clematis for a beginner to try, C. Etoile Violette can be grown into a small or medium tree–mine is growing in an Italian plum tree–or on an arbor, fence, or trellis.

Close-Up of French Hybrid C. Etoile Violette

Close-Up of French Hybrid C. Etoile Violette

It’s partner, C. Betty Corning, is similar in size and bloom time, plus it contrasts beautifully with C. Etoile Violette, both in color and in flower shape.  The original C. Betty Corning caught the eye of Betty Corning of Albany, New York, in a neighbor’s garden in the 1920s.  The plant was the result of a cross made by nature, probably with species clematis C. Crispa as one parent.  Mrs. Corning accepted a cutting from her generous neighbor and, realizing it’s potential, gave a plant to a local nurseryman who got it into commerce.  Now it grows all over the world.  The icing on the cake about this clematis is its delightful fragrance!

The American Clematis Betty Corning

Close-Up of  American Clematis C. Betty Corning

 Second Annual Garden Open at Silver Star Vinery

THIS Weekend, July 12 and 13

Want to see a treasure trove of hundreds of beautiful clematis all blooming at once?  Want a chance to buy some of those beautiful clematis in person?  You CAN!  Debbie Fischer, owner of Silver Star Vinery, a mail-order source of great clematis, is hosting the second annual Silver Star Vinery Open Gardens in the beautiful foothills of the Cascades north of Vancouver, WA, on Saturday and Sunday, July 12th and 13th, from 10am – 4pm each day.   Renowned British clematis hybridizer and speaker, Roy Nunn, will give a clematis talk each day at 1pm.  This rare opportunity to purchase clematis in person from Silver Star Vinery and to see the gorgeous display gardens is an event not to be missed!  I will be there, too, in the display gardens helping to answer clematis questions.  Come on DOWN.

Go to the Silver Star Vinery website to get directions and more information.  For a detailed description of the event in a local newspaper, The Reflector, click here.

Hope to see you there this weekend!

Just a Small Part of the Silver Star Vinery Display Garden

Just a Small Part of the Silver Star Vinery Display Garden

Clematis of the Month–June

Clematis Etoile Violette and Clematis Betty Corning in my Plum Tree

Clematis Etoile Violette and Clematis Betty Corning in my Plum Tree

The best clematis in my garden for the month of June is, hands down, a beautiful pairing–Clematis Etoile Violette and Clematis Betty Corning cavorting together in my plum tree.  The rich dark purple open blooms are Clematis Etoile Violette.  Clematis Betty Corning is the pale bell, which is delightfully fragrant to boot.

Today I head off to Germany for the annual conference of the International Clematis Society.  I’ll be seeing scads of beautiful clematis and hope to post from there, so be on the lookout for clematis news from Germany.

Below are a few more of the lovely clematis blooming in my garden today.

Dainty Clematis Odoriba

Dainty Clematis Odoriba

Dark and sultry Clematis Negrityanka

Dark and sultry Clematis Negrityanka

Clematis Caroline

Clematis Caroline

The floriferous and ever-beautiful Clematis Madame Julia Correvon

The floriferous and ever-beautiful Clematis Madame Julia Correvon

Clematis Bijou as a groundcover

Clematis Bijou as a groundcover

Clemitis Kiri Te Kanawa -- only planted about two months ago!

Clemitis Kiri Te Kanawa — only planted about two months ago!

Clematis Josephine, still going strong

Clematis Josephine, still going strong

First bloom on my new Clematis Crispa

First bloom on my new Clematis Crispa

Clematis Beauty of Worcester

Clematis Beauty of Worcester

Ordering Clematis: Silver Star Vinery

Plants under Glass at the Conservatory

Plants under Glass at the Conservatory

Yesterday, after a nice leisurely Sunday breakfast out, my husband and I found ourselves near the Volunteer Park in Seattle with its beautiful old glass conservatory. All the grey foggy days we’ve had around here of late made us hanker for live plants and color, so we stopped by.

Seeing beautiful foliage and lush blooming plants put me in the mood to think about clematis (unfortunatley, there weren’t any in the conservatory).  When I got home I spent some serious time perusing the websites of my three favorite mail-order clematis nurseries in the US and day-dreaming about which new clematis I wanted to grace my garden.  Most years I buy at least a couple of clematis  from each one of these great nurseries.  I know, I know, where will I put them all you ask?!  Don’t worry, I always find a way–I have a big shoehorn just for this purpose. 

Clematis Star of India

Clematis Star of India

Today I will  tell you about Silver Star Vinery, which is located in the foothills of the Cascades near Vancouver, Washington.  This mail-order-only nursery offers a wide variety of well-established, healthy clematis.  Owner, Debbie Fisher, has strong connections with many European hybridizers and imports a few new cultivars almost every year.   Her big healthy plants tend to get going quickly.   Before she ships, she usually sends her customers an email telling them to go dig the holes cuz she’s heading to the post office!  I bought Clematis Star of India from her last spring and by July this saftig young plant had at least 25 beautiful flowers on it — and I’d had it less that six months!  Check out my photo.

So, after looking, and thinking, and making lists, and looking some more, I placed an order yesterday with Silver Star Vinery — below as a little teaser are just two of them.  (Please note:  I have permission from Silver Star Vinery to use photos from its website in my blog.)

Check back in a couple of days — I’ll tell you about Joy Creek Nursery and what I ordered from there.

Clematis crispa, a sweet little fragrant bell!

Clematis crispa, a sweet little fragrant bell!

A new Jackmannii -- Jackmanii purpurea.  Debbie says it's VERY floriferous!

A new Jackmannii — Jackmanii purpurea. Debbie says it’s VERY floriferous!

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