Clematis cirrhosa 'Lansdowne Gem'

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.

20 thoughts on “Winter Clematis: Lansdowne Gem

  1. ‘Winter-flowering clematis’ seems like an oxymoron to me, but the flowers are gorgeous. Having yet another source of nourishment for the pollinators is all to the good. Your mention of having to look up into the blooms from below reminded me of two of our native clematis: Clematis pitcheri, a lovely blue, and C. texensis, a kind of orangey-red. These flowers look larger and far more open than the ones I’m familiar with; about what size are the blooms?

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    1. I looked up both the clematis you mentioned. They’re pretty and look like they could have been used in the breeding of some modern cultivars. Lansdowne Gem has smaller flowers than the summer clematis – I’d say around 5cm/2in across if the flower was to open wide. I’m hoping to have a few more flowers available for bees that stay active or come out of hibernation early, so this plant could be really useful. 🙂

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    1. Yes, as far as I remember they do. This is the first year that the plant has been big enough to have many flowers, so there wouldn’t have been many seed heads last year. Fairly sure I remember seeing some though. The fluffiness develops as the seed heads mature.

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    1. They are, Liz! But I will have to keep an eye on the clematis, in case it gets too big for the shrub to support…might have to create some extra support alongside. (The clematis can be pruned a bit if necessary.)

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    1. I’ve just read that it can get big enough to cause problems to whatever its grown up – though I doubt that it would grow well enough to get to that size here. Even so, now I’ll just keep an eye on it. (I’m not keen to prune it unless it’s necessary – the flowers are produced on mature stems.)

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  2. I love the combination of this clematis and Viburnum bodnantense Ann, a very clever solution to revealing the hidden beauty of the inside of the flowers. I may have a go myself, but our bodnantense is in a north facing garden so it could be a gamble. It’s well planted though [crowded] so I like to think I’ve created a micro climate, possibly wishful thinking.

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    1. Thanks Stephanie! I suspect that the clematis would need more sun than a north-facing one could provide. If you had somewhere with a bit of sun and a structure that it could climb it might be happy. (I’m not sure that my Viburnum will be able to support the clematis if it gets big…will have to wait and see!)

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