Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Herby clematis--to DIE for! (Aristocratic additions to the plantsman's garden...)

Clematis albicoma at Denver Botanic Gardens' Rock Alpine Garden
Have you ever noticed the plant you want the most is the one you do not have: this magnificent clump of the incomparable (and very rare) native herbaceous clematis of the shale barrens has bloomed superbly year after year at my workplace....why is it not at my house? Everyone knows and loves the climbing clematis, but the short, stubby perennials ones are my cup of tea.

Clematis chrysocoma in the 玉龍山 (Yulongshan, Yunnan, China)
I have never seen this one in a garden. I found it quite a few places the one magical May day I spent on these mountains. Alas, none in seed...

Another shot of Clematis chrysocoma in the 玉龍山 (Yulongshan, Yunnan, China)
This one shows the lovely leaves better--and the range of tepal color....

Clematis fremontii in the garden
I first saw this in Bob Nold's garden, maybe twenty years ago....and had to have it. Eventually we got a whole flat from Harlan Hamernik...and it is now an icon of the Rock Alpine Garden. The clump above is one of that flat--at the entrance tot he garden...

Clematis fremontii in the wild
I was lucky to find this in the wild--not a terribly common plant, although it was abundant in one farmer's field...

Clematis fremontii in seed
The seeheads on most of these herbaceous clematis are almost lovelier than the flowers...

Another gem in the Rock Alpine Garden: hybrid with Clematis fremontii?
Laporte Avenue nursery keeps producing these amazing hybrids...

Clematis heracleifolia Seneca Perennials form
This is a very mediocre picture of a fabulous plant that has self-sown all over the West end of the Rock Alpine Garden. I like all forms of this plant, but the short, dark form from Ellen Hornig is the best so far. I love the large, dark leaves and silvery seeds as well...

Clematis hexapetala
This incredible plant introduced by Harlan Hamernik from Inner Mongolia may be the queen of the herbaceous clematis...or maybe not (they're all royalty!). It is destined to be Plant Select, hopefully sooner than later!

Clematis hexapetala
Look. You may drool (just wipe it up afterwards!)...photographed a few years at DBG's Plantasia garden...

Clematis hirsutissima 'Garden Club of Denver'
We still have a few of these Thank Heavens. But these two clumps are long gone (the garden was replaced by vegetables. But I'm not bitter)...

Clematis hirsutissima 'Garden Club of Denver'
What can I say?

Clematis integrifolia 'Mongolian Bells'
This captures just a bit of a hint of the majesty of this plant. Unlike the common forms which try to grow up an flop, this makes a decumbent mound that does not need staking. And if you dead-head, it blooms again in late summer. Surely one of the greatest Plant Select plants: I am distressed more nurseries are not offering it (it blooms the first year from seed, for Heaven's sake!)

Clematis recta at Quince
Strange to think this is probably the best known of the herbaceous clematis! I like it...but prefer others! Taken in my garden many years ago...
Clematis scottii at Laporte Avenue Nursery
This wonderful native plant has been lumped with Clematis hirsutissima, which has very different foliage, flowers, habit, ecology, ethology--you name it! Botanists are sometimes myopic. It grows at lower elevations than its sometimes congener, and blooms much longer, and is much more spreading. It was featured this year by Plant Select Petites... It should be in every garden!

Clematis Columbiana v. tenuiloba at Quince
As should this gem! Alas, it has only proved long lived in CONTAINERS! What better argument for a trough garden? When this bloomed like this we threw a party...This gorgeous plant is found from the Northern Rockies to New Mexico--although not abundant anywhere except perhaps on the limestones of the Black Hills where this made a shag carpet for of America's loveliest wild flowers...

Clematis Columbiana v. tenuiloba at Quince
This picture speaks for itself...believe it or not, there are even more adorable, gorgeous, unique and wonderful herbaceous clematis. But I don't have pictures of them yet. Believe me, when I do you will see them!~Again and again....


  1. What great little clematis. Good luck with your search.

  2. You do realize you are undercutting my bulb budget with these Clematis posts.

  3. An impressive array! Thanks for getting the word out that not all clematis are fussy gaudy vining princesses.

    1. Linda dear, you completely utterly CRACK ME UP!!!!!

  4. Panayoti, I could almost mistake the Clematis chrysocoma for an Anemone.

    I have one good seedling, and one questionable seedling, of Clematis hirsutissima. I am wondering if it might really get to be 3 ft tall.

    I think you must be part devil for showing pictures of Clematis scottii when the nursery is sold out. Alternatively, it could be a blessing in disguise. Should I pay the mortgage or order some plants? Hmmmm


  5. Most forms of hirsutissima are not that big: around Denver 1 1/2 feet is max. The scottii is shorter: I've seen lots if it around Denver at nurseries, James: better get out here! And I do love the fussy, gaudy, vining ones too, Linda Beutler! What an awesome genus.

  6. ... And, of course, the magnificent species and hybrids from New Zealand. Another superb article, Panayoti ... many thanks.

  7. Be still my beating heart ... !
    weak in the knees, yup.

  8. Fanastic clematis I love them all.
    Where can I buy seeds?

  9. Your blogs are really good and interesting. It is very great and informative. West end of the Rock Alpine Garden. I like all forms of this plant, but the short, dark form from Ellen Hornig is the best so far. I love the large, dark leaves and silvery seeds as well.. Fairfax Traffic Lawyer. I got a lots of useful information in your blog. Keeps sharing more useful blogs..


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