'Duchess of Albany'
Photo/Illustration: Bill Johnson
Almost everyone is enchanted by a clematis, and I am no exception. When I first started my decades-long love affair with this bewitching vine, I was awestruck by the sheer beauty and grandeur of the big, bold, and beautiful hybrids.
But people are often too blinded by the glamorous to see the graceful. Such is the number of species and cultivars in this genus that we could easily devote the sum of our gardening passions to this vine and never move beyond the large, star-shaped blooms of pink, purple, and white. But the sheer diversity of Clematis merits further exploration.
When I discovered the dizzying selection that clematis offers, my infatuation intensified. Flower shapes can resemble bells, lanterns, tulips, stars, saucers, or even little elf hats. The blooms can be as tiny as 12 inch long but are produced with such profusion as to create a powerful impression. Their colors include pink, white, red, yellow, and myriad shades of purple. It’s common to find combinations of these colors on one flower. I couldn’t help but be smitten by such captivating plants.
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From the Plant Guide: Clematis
The following clematis have a color, shape, or size that make them just a bit out of the ordinary. Yet none requires special conditions to grow nor is so obscure that only one specialty nursery sells it. Consider these clematis merely a first step into a world to be discovered, a brief glimpse at the possibilities that exist beyond the large-flowered cultivars. Even if you grow just one, you will be enamored with the elegance it adds to your garden.