Some plants just make you ache. There’s thousands of plants I like, hundreds that I love, and just a few that can make my heart skip a beat – plants that hold my attention for ages, and then having me longing to look again, and for longer, the moment I look away.
Just now, amongst several things in the garden that I’ll visit daily, there’s only one that has me entirely in its spell. And that’s Clematis x durandii.
I’ve had a long-term unresolved attraction to these non-climbing clematis, and I’m not sure why. I’ve never managed to get a decent plant of Clematis integrifolia going (they were always sold way too small – the size that would need nurturing in a pot for a year before planting out. I don’t trust myself to provide that level of care over a prolonged period. Then last year I saw a huge fat plant for sale in a big pot, but I resisted the purchase on the basis of having no appropriate context for it. I’ve regretted it ever since).
I’d love to get hold of a plant of Clematis x eriostemon, but I don’t think it’s here in Australia. Again, I don’t understand quite why the longing. There’s a possibility I’d be disappointed in ownership. After all, it’s not like it’s widely grown where it is available. Hardly known, as far as I can see.
Anyway, my C x durandii is now in its third season, and is finally convincingly multi-stemmed. They do take a while to really bulk up. Everything about it is just so satisfyingly chunky.
I love its inky blue. The pics make it look more purple, but the colour is exactly as I remember the ink that we used in primary school, back in the days when we had to get a licence to use a fountain pen – something I achieved in Grade 3, possibly only weeks before no one ever thought of using a fountain pen again.
I love the velour of its petal texture – of its extraordinary balance between being primarily matte, but capable of a macro sheen when light hits it at a certain angle.
I love that ghostly grey on the back of its emphatically funnel-shaped buds, and how the intense colour at the base dilutes as it apparently spreads into the widening petals.
I can’t say I love its yellow and white central boss of stamens, though I like it well enough, and have no doubt that its presence is essential to the overall appeal of the flower.
But I do love its leaves – about as simple a leaf that anyone could think up, or any kid could draw.
To be frank, I’m totally sick for the thing.