The National Collection of Clematis Montana

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Montana Flowering at By The Way in 2012

November 2012

Charlotte Wemyss has been collecting montana cultivars, varieties and species for several years. I have had much fun communicating with her and we visited her and husband Michael at Wemyss Castle in 2009, shortly before Chris died. We have both enjoyed working on the fabulous Thorncroft Clematis Nursery stand at Chelsea for the last few years.

Charlotte reports a wonderful montana flowering at Wemyss in 2012 but this year was very disappointing for me, with many of my montana plants exhibiting spotting on the blooms - the result, I suspect, of the rain and winds during April, when the collection was budding up. We were very dry here throughout the cold winter, remaining dry during the excessive heat in March - quite extraordinary temperatures. The heat brought the buds almost to bursting, but then came the wind, hail and rain, interspersed with dismal grey days.

Jack Gittoes and Margaret Morris both gave me 'Miss Christine' in 2005. Jacks' was planted in a particularly exposed position in the teeth of the prevailing winds, west of a sycamore two thirds of the way down the garden. The other is north of a massive oak, fully exposed to the bitter south easterlies and strong south westerlies. Very challenging positions. Both plants established quickly, flowering from bottom to top in 2006 and every year since - until this year! I couldn't believe they were the same plants. Tiny, white flowers with red blotches. So very disappointing.

Three of my other reliable stars, 'Freda', 'Warwickshire Rose' and 'Wee Willie Winkie', were similarly affected - a good number of flowers on all plants, but the blooms spoiled by red blotches.

On the positive side, a special white seedling, planted in the ground in 2010, flowered magnificently. Dozens of stems and smothered with flowers. It is one of two possible contenders to name after Chris - the other being a beautiful deep blue heracleifolia seedling, already propagated by Marcus. I will see how they flower next year - perhaps one could be Chris and the other, Christopher?

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