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Plant for February - Clematis

By Plant for Life. Clematis is the finest and most admirable of all the flowering vines. In the garden, clematis will entwine and will happily grow through trees, shrubs, evergreens, trellis, fencing or any prepared structure.

Some assistance is required, however, in training and directing for the best display. There are a vast array of garden worthy vines, with the evergreen clematis standing out as exceptional garden plants. 

Clematis armandiiClematis cirrhosa

Early flowering species include two evergreen types, Clematis armandii and Clematis cirrhosa. Each of these species has a number of cultivars well worth growing because of their delicate scented flowers. The flowers of Clematis cirrhosa have a fresh citrus fragrance which is especially noticeable if the plant is grown in a winter conservatory or in any warm sheltered garden corner. The evergreen foliage of these plants is a valuable feature C. cirrhosa has much daintier leaves than the bold more familiar leaves of Clematis armandii. The foliage of C. cirrhosa is usually dissected and tends to develop attractive bronzing in winter. It is also hardier, less vigorous and therefore manageable in the garden. Following the flowers are the silvery seed heads which extends the appeal when the blooms have faded.

The strengths of Clematis armandii are that it is ideal for fast growing screen, it's leathery evergreen foliage gives all year round interest and the young growth is a particularly attractive bronze colour. The clusters of vanilla scented white blossom is a real plus in late spring. Clematis armandii needs plenty of room. It can eventually grow to 10 metres. The leaves can reach 150mm long and 50mm wide. There are some named cultivars including 'Apple Blossom' which has pink tinted flowers and bronzed new foliage. 'Snow Drift' has especially clear white blooms, while 'Early Spring' is an early bloomer with pale pink flowers.

Both species are hardy but some of their cultivars will require a little protection to enable them to get established. Cultivars of Clematis cirrhosa include the Majorcan version known as 'Balerica'. Newer cultivars include 'Jingle Bells' which is pure white with no spots, 'Wisley Cream', which is creamy white sometimes tinted with green, and a popular variety called 'Freckles' with cream and bold red markings.

Plant for Life