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.


Armchair Gardening: Checking out the Mail Order Nurseries for Clematis

Early crocus, daffodils, and tulips are tentatively poking their heads up out of the soil to test the waters (so to speak).  My witchhazel is blooming.  The fragrance of the Sarcococca knocks my socks off every time I go in or out the door.  The Northwest Flower & Garden Show is next month.  The weather has been unseasonably warm here in Seattle (though a bit drippy).  So, of course, I have an early form of spring fever!  I really should get outside and finish pruning my Group 3 clematis (the ones that bloom in July and August on new wood), but instead, I stayed inside and drooled over the offerings from my three favorite online mail-order sources for clematis:  Silver Star Vinery, Joy Creek Nursery, and Brushwood Nursery.

Three of My Favorite Clematis

Before I get started, though, I will pause to recommend, both to beginners and to old hands a like, three of my personal favorite clematis, all which are available at all three mail-order nurseries.

 Clematis 'Gipsy Queen'

Clematis ‘Gipsy Queen’

Clematis ‘Gipsy Queen’

This clematis has sumptuous and velvety deep dark purple flowers with rich red overtones on opening, then ages to a lighter reddish purple.  It always stops me in my tracks whenever I see it in bloom (even if I just saw it a minute ago!).  This large clematis (up to 12 or 14 feet) is always recognizable to me, even from a distance, for its size, its lush purple color, and the spacy-ness of its flowers.  Its tepals spread out gracefully, leaving space between them, especially at the base, where the tepals narrow near the center of the flower like the base of a spoon, adding a special charm.  C. ‘Gipsy Queen’, a sun lover, is easy to grow and comes on strong (at least for me) in late July and August when so many of my other clematis are beginning to wind down.

C. 'Guernsey Cream'

C. ‘Guernsey Cream’

Clematis ‘Guernsey Cream’

C. ‘Guernsey Cream’ is usually the first large-flowered clematis to bloom in my garden in spring, sometimes as early as mid-May.  I am always so happy to see it’s rich creamy blossoms, sometimes with green overtones.  It blooms luxuriantly for several weeks before resting for a time.  If I cut it back a bit after blooming, I may get a few more blooms in the autumn.  Several clematarian friends advise me to boldly cut it back really hard to get many more blooms in the second flush.  I’ll try,  really, I will.

Clematis Betty Corning

Clematis Betty Corning

Clematis ‘Betty Corning’

The third of my favorites is the delightful and dainty C. ‘Betty Corning’, with its open bell-shape and soft mauvey-blue color, which shows well when paired with many other clematis or with roses.  It blooms its little heart out in July and August.  The pièce de résistance of this clematis, though, is its lovely light fragrance that wafts around the garden on a warm summer day.  It’s another one that I just can’t be without!

Three More Recommendations from Each Nursery

Brushwood Nursery

As I perused offerings from this nursery, which has all kinds of vines, not just clematis, I chose three excellent clematis to recommend to you that I grow myself.

FairRosamondClematis ‘Fair Rosamond’

A beautiful and easy-care early-blooming white clematis with a contrasting dark-red boss (which is all those reproductive parts clustered together in the middle of the flower).  This 7-9′ vine would pair nicely with a dark-leaved small tree like Forest Pansy Redbud.  It blooms in June and has a very light fragrance of violets.

C. 'Etoile de Malicorne'

C. ‘Etoile de Malicorne’

Clematis Etoile de Malicorne

This is a two-tone large-flowered spring bloomer that blends well with dark blues, dark pinks, purples, and whites.  I grow it to great effect with C. ‘Ville de Lyon’, an intensely pink clematis with rounded tepals (see a photo of this clematis under Silver Star Vinery below)–though their bloom times just barely overlap.  This tall plant, growing to 9-12′, blooms in May/June and pushes out a few blossoms again in the autumn, if you’re lucky.

C. florida 'Sieboldii'

C. florida ‘Sieboldii’

Clematis florida ‘Sieboldii’

A real stunner, C. florida ‘Sieboldii’  blooms in July and August and looks good with just about anything!  It bloomed so well for me in the back garden that I had to have one for the front garden, too.  It has a reputation for being a bid persnickety.  Some years it blooms beautifully, then the next has only a few flowers.  But in this case, even one flower is worthwhile.

Click the links below to see which clematis from Brushwood I am thinking about ordering for myself:

Clematis ‘Vancouver Fragrant Star’, because it’s fragrant.

Clematis ‘Vanessa’, because I’ve met Vanessa and because it blooms in late summer and fall.

Clematis ‘Lady Betty Balfour’, because it also blooms in late summer and fall.

Joy Creek Nursery

Joy Creek Nursery offers many kinds of plants, but fortunately for me clematis are one of their specialties.  Here are three they offer that I enjoy having in my garden.

C. 'Asao'

C. ‘Asao’

Clematis ‘Asao’

C. Asao is a Japanese hybrid that blooms in May and June.  The flowers are pink, gradually morphing to nearly white at the base of the tepals, nicely setting off the yellow center.   This clematis often has just a few extra tepals–not enough to call it double, but enough to give the flowers a ruffly look.

Clematis Alba Plena

Clematis Alba Plena

C. ‘Alba Plena’

This unusual and gorgeous clematis is in Pruning Group C, which means it is easy to prune (just cut it back hard in winter or early spring) and that it blooms on new wood in July and August.  It’s unusual greenish-white blossoms have a large boss in the center.  Sometimes this plant can be a bit finicky to establish, but the effort certainly pays off!


Clematis 'Pauline'

Clematis ‘Pauline’

C. ‘Pauline’

C. ‘Pauline’ is a spring bloomer with sweet little nodding bells and delicate leaves.  I love how the dark purple color stands out against the greenery.  Being an alpina type of clematis, this one doesn’t need pruning every year, though after a few years it may develop a ratty look and need a rejuvenation.  It enjoys partial shade–the dappled shade of a deciduous tree suits it perfectly.

Three of the clematis that caught my eye at Joy Creek Nursery are:

Clematis ‘Candida’, because I loved it in my Boston garden–it’s flowers are so large and lovely (sorry, no photo at Joy Creek, but you can see one here.)

Clematis ‘Haizawa’, because it’s adorable — and I saw a robust specimen last summer in a Seattle garden.

Clematis ‘Obotozukiyo’, because it is so delicately pretty.

Silver Star Vinery

C. Star of India

C. Star of India


The blossoms of C. ‘Star of India’ are a rich purple with a stand-out red stripe in the center.  The fat tepals overlap, making for a rounded form.  This beauty sports its blossoms in July and August on 9-12 foot vines.  Because it’s a summer bloomer and blooms on new wood, it’s easy to prune (cut it back hard).  Great for any garden with full sun.


C. Ville de Lyon

C. Ville de Lyon

Another beauty, C. ‘Ville de Lyon’ is intensely pink with the outer rim of each tepal even darker than the inside.  Once you’ve seen this one in bloom, you will always recognize it.  It’s a tall clematis, often growing to 15 feet.  Because it’s a heat lover, be sure to plant it in a hot sunny spot (keeping it well-watered, of course).

C. Romantika

C. Romantika

A really dark rich color that stands out when placed against a light background such as Lonicera nitida ‘Baggesons Gold.’  Blooming in summer with numerous small flowers, it always catches the eye of visitors to my garden.  Easy care, just needing a hard prune in winter.



The clematis below are calling my name from Silver Star Vinery.  There may be more than one clematis per page, so you might have to scroll down to find the clematis I’m interested in:

Clematis ‘Arabella’, because I’ve admired it in so many gardens

Clematis ‘Barbara Harrington’, because I’ve admired it in the Silver Star Vinery display garden.

Clematis ‘Kasagai’, because I never heard of it and there’s no picture.  Tantalizing.

I hope all this eye candy will encourage you to buy a new clematis or two!

Fall Has Arrived

Even though fall arrived on Sunday in Seattle with rain, wind, and cooler temperatures, serveral clematis were still showing their wares.  Some even starred in beautiful  autumn floral combinations!

Clematis My Angel (rumored to be a thug)

Clematis My Angel (rumored to be a thug)

A Digression

But first, let me digress about a recent sighting of Clematis My Angel.   A month ago or so, my husband and I took a weekend jaunt to the quaint Victorian town of Port Townsend on the Olympic peninsula here in Washington State.  We enjoyed a great lunch one day outdoors on the patio of a little neighborhood restaurant. Several houses, including the restaurant (which had been a house in an earlier life), had yards that butted up against each other with a wide and winding semi-public pathway in-between. As we were eating, my eagle clematis eye recognized that an unfamiliar clematis was cloaking an arbor about 30′ away, so quite naturally I had to investigate.  It was Clematis My Angel, a hybrid of Clematis orientalis var orientalis and Clematis intricata, raised by Wim Snoeijer of the Dutch nursery Jan van Zoest. It’s a lovely clematis that blooms in August and has great seedheads.  I, however, have steered clear of it because of rumors that it can sometimes become invasive, not only reseeding but also running underground. It’s lovely, though, with nodding bronzy-purple buds that open to show off yellow undersides with brown stamens.  Hmm, maybe I DO need this one, after all. 

Way Too Many Clematis Need Planting

Sunday I managed to plant eight of the twenty-four clematis that have somehow showed up in my potting area.  Then, today, I upgraded four to larger  pots–too young or too small to plant out yet.  Because the eight clematis I managed to get planted this weekend are new to me, I have no photos of my own.  But you can check out the links below to Clematis on the Web to see what they look like.  All but one of these will join three or four others on the back fence of my property – and grow through to the alley-where they can WOW alley strollers and dog walkers!

Clematis Happy Birthday

Clematis Mrs. Cholmondeley (pronounced Chumley)

Clematis Multi Blue

Clematis Omoshiro

Clematis Rebecca

Clematis tibetana subsp vernayi var laciniifolia

Clematis Vitiwester

Also planted, but in a place seen from inside the garden:

Clematis tibetana (black form) (should look similar to the one at this link)

A Sampling of my September Bloomers

One of the most lovely clematis blooming in my garden now is Clematis florida sieboldii next to my front steps.  I have enjoyed the one in my back garden so much that I got one last spring for the front .  It bloomed beautifully for me in June, but then collapsed to the ground (wilt?  broken stem? something else?  who knows?).  So I had to cut it to the ground – then, lo and behold, it grew a new stem and is blooming again in September!  Gotta love that clem!  

Clematis florida sieboldii (in my front garden)

Clematis florida sieboldii (in my front garden)

Madame Baron Veillard is still throwing its welcome late blooms.

Clematis Madame Baron Veillard

Clematis Madame Baron Veillard

Even Betty Corning has put out a couple of new blossoms for my enjoyment.

Clematis Betty Corning

Clematis Betty Corning

And Clematis Sizaia Ptitsa, which has been blooming for months, is still sending out new flowers.

Clematis Sizaia Ptitsa, still going strong

Clematis Sizaia Ptitsa, still going strong

Clematis Etoile de Malicorne, a June bloomer, showed off with a late and lovely blossom.

Clematis Etoile de Malicorne

Clematis Etoile de Malicorne

Nearby Clematis Ville de Lyon is blooming with the black berries of a Hypericum.

Clematis Ville de Lyon

Clematis Ville de Lyon

My Clematis terniflora (Sweet Autumn Clematis) is loaded down with buds and should burst into fragrant bloom any day now.  Though Sweet Autumn Clematis blooms for me here in Seattle in late September and early October, when I grew it in Boston (much much more heat), it would bloom for me from August to October!  But even with a shorter season here in Seattle, I wouldn’t be without it.

Multitudes of Buds on Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora)

Multitudes of Buds on Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora)

Great Autumn Clematis Combos

Late blooms of Clematis Margot Koster spontaneously color-coordinated itself with a Pee Gee Hydrangea.

Clematis Margot Koster

Clematis Margot Koster

Clematis Rooguchi Making a Comeback with Rudbekia Goldsturm.

Clematis Rooguchi

Clematis Rooguchi

As promised, here is a photo of my Clematis viorna cavorting with the beautiful lavender fruit of Beauty Berry (Calicarpa).

Clematis viorna with the lavender berries of Beauty Berry

Clematis viorna with the lavender berries of Beauty Berry

Two More Sweet Little Bells

Here’s a photo of a cute hybrid of Clematis pitcheri from the southeastern US.

Clematis pitcheri hybrid on a Ceonothus.

Clematis pitcheri hybrid on a Ceonothus.

A  Japanese hybrid, Clematis Hakuju has dainty white bells that bloom off and on all summer for me with the black leaves of a dark Actea (formerly Cimicifuga) and the clear green leaves and white flowers of Nicotiana sylvestrus.

Clematis Hakuju with a dark-leaved Actea (aka Cimicifuga)

Clematis Hakuju with a dark-leaved Actea (aka Cimicifuga)

What’s blooming in YOUR garden?


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