People are funny about clematis. I have clients who won’t have them in their gardens, believing that they are fussy and capricious – feet in the shade, heads in the sun, greedy, drought-shy, needy, needy, needy. There’s some truth in that.
But Clematis macropetala (above) is a star. It’s normally at its best in April, but this year, like everything else, it’s been held back by the late spring. So right now, here in London, it’s smothered in nodding, double flowers the colour of bluebells that open from buds of deep purple and will last for weeks.
Clematis macropetala will cope with a bit of shade. It can handle dryish soil once established, and it belongs to the group that doesn’t need pruning, except when it outgrows the space you want it to fill, which it does only occasionally, being a moderate grower.
The leaves are pretty; delicately serrated and soft apple green, so it’s useful scrambling up to hide an unsightly corner. And the cultivars are as good. My favourites are ‘Constance’, (pictured above) which has dusky, rose-pink flowers, and ‘Purple Spider’, with finer petals drenched inky purple.
Sometimes Clematis macropetala come back for a second show later in the summer, too. And when they’re finished, each flower turns into a silky seedhead that lasts most of the winter. Just about perfect, really.