Winter Clematis: Lansdowne Gem

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The weather has made the garden feel distinctly unappealing for most of this week. It has been grey and damp and dark far too early in the day for me to spend much time outside. But I did make a point of going out to look at the flowers of Clematis cirrhosa ‘Lansdowne Gem’.

Unlike the other clematis in the garden, this one flowers during winter. The flowers are a deep wine-red, but in order to see the colour you need to be standing underneath the bell-like flowers. (The outside of the flower is a drab greyish-white.) I’ve chosen to grow this clematis up through the winter-flowering Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ which has pink flowers at the same time.

The flowers are not all a solid red. Some are quite speckled, especially around the edges of the petals. I was intrigued to notice that one flower was especially spotty (below), making it look very like the flowers of the related variety ‘Freckles’. And seeing how pretty it is, I’m now tempted to look for somewhere that I could grow ‘Freckles’ too.

Having flowers in the garden in winter is something of a treat. It’s also great for any bees that are around at this time. That makes me very interested in growing other winter-flowering clematis.

These clematis come from Mediterranean areas and go dormant in summer. That means they are more likely to survive drought in my hot Suffolk garden than the summer-flowering types. (I’ve lost a few of those through planting them in unsuitably dry places!) These clematis are not so hardy, though, so I’m hoping we won’t get a ‘Beast from the East’ this year.

Clematis cirrhosa 'Lansdowne Gem'

LEFT: The clematis flowers trail through this shrub’s branches like rows of bells.

RIGHT: One of the flowers of ‘Landsdowne Gem’ was spotty rather than the usual almost solid red.