Monday, June 8, 2009

Clematis 'Sieboldii'

This is the plant more often called Clematis florida sieboldii, or C. florida bicolor, or even C. florida sieboldiana. It’s doubtful that it is unhybridized Clematis florida, so I’ve listed it as you see it above.

It’s an old garden plant, how old no one really knows. It was introduced to European gardens from Japan in the early nineteenth century according to Bean. That means that it’s about two hundred years old at least. Clematis florida itself is not native to Japan, and that lends credence to the notion that this cultivar is of hybrid origin.

In the older literature it has a bipolar reputation: extravagant praise for the unusual flowers (when I Googled it I discovered that some are now calling it the passion flower clematis) combined with sourpuss comments about the difficulties encountered in growing it. Even now there seems to be uncertainty about its cold hardiness. I had to try more than once before I got a plant to settle down here.

This is not a large-flowered clematis: the blooms are about three inches wide, comparable to those of many of the viticella hybrids.

I’ve known about this plant for most of my gardening life, and it’s very nice now to have it – evidently established – in the garden.

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