I don’t think there are many plants that make me go weak at the knees. I wish there were more.
It’s plantings that are more likely to do if for me – great combinations of plants, bouncing off each other in such a way that all members of the troupe are glorified by the company.
But one plant that really bowls me over is Clematis x durandii. I love everything about it. The flower shape, the inky blue colour, the very texture of the flowers, the ribbed ‘petals’, the buds, the foliage. I think I could love its parent, Clematis integrifolia, equally, but I’ve never managed to get one established. Until reasonably recently, I’d only ever bought tiny plants that were just too vulnerable in the serious rough and tumble of my garden.
Clematis x durandii has a strong foothold, tucked, as it was, under the edge of a big rosemary, following the traditional wisdom about Clematis wanting their roots in the shade and their leaves in the sun.
But I think I’ve said all that before on these pages. What prompts the revisit is that I’m sitting before a narrow vase in which C. x durandii is on display, as it has now been for over two and a half weeks! Admittedly it is very nearly over, but that’s still an incredible performance! Until I saw a bunch of C. integrifolia for sale in the floating flower markets in Amsterdam, I didn’t think any clematis would last as a picked flower. Their stems just don’t look up to it. But I’ve since discovered that both C. x durandii and C. integrifolia are commonly grown as cut flowers in Europe, and I’m totally blown away by their keeping power here.
The other revelation (to me) was how tolerant C. x durandii is of being hacked back at critical moments. I’d only recently heard (and doubted) that if cut back hard after the first flowering, it’d flower again. With my watering regime (ie, no water at all!) I thought this highly unlikely. But this year I had to butcher the host-rosemary, just as the Clematis was about to flower, and the clematis (for all sorts of practical reasons), had to butchered along with it. The rosemary is struggling a bit, but the clematis came back with huge enthusiasm, and is now flowering better than ever before, about six weeks later than normal.
It’s stupid how much I love it.