Blithe Spirit Posted on September 2, 2007

I lean on clematis in summer like a drunk on the bottle. They seem to be doing half the work of keeping a sparkle in the
surging masses of green, a handful that time has shown keep producing wonderful colour week after week. Of all the midsummer ones C. ‘Perle d’Azur’ is queen, climbing, spreading, drooping and generally distributing its pale violet-blue flowers, individuals that tilt this way and that, catching different lights. It wanders up my favourite climbing rose, the buff/
white/pink R. ‘Alister Stella Gray’ and dances over my favourite white/ pink/red hydrangea, H. serrata‘Grayswood’.

At the same time Clematis x durandiitakes care of the deep blue end of the spectrum – with less elegance but equal generosity. C. x durandii has no means of climbing, but we have made it brushwood wigwams in beds where perennials crowd around. Alstromeria ligtu is the perfect pink to set one off. Buff plumes of Macleaya cordata and
blue spikes of delphiniums jostle round another.

The only clematis in the garden when we arrived was C. ‘Alba Luxurians’. The second name is apt, the first less so: flowers can be white or green, and are usually harlequins of the two. It belongs to the later-flowering and smaller- flowered category that go under the general heading viticella. I scarcely mind which of this featherweight tribe I grow:
their casual little flowers pour off the vine from June to September. C. ‘Kermesina’
is like velvet wine, ‘Minuet’ a merry muddle of purple and white, ‘Polish Spirit’ close to C. x durandii,
‘Madame Julia Correvon’ more red wine, but with narrow petals widely spaced. All these grow here with blithe good humour.

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