Clematis florida Viennetta

Clematis florida Viennetta

This clematis was a head-turner of a plant. I felt like one of the paparazzi as I lined up with jostling amateur and professional photographers at a recent flower show for my chance to take its picture.

The attraction? Masses of white flowers with showy, fully double centres in shades of purple and green hanging gracefully from a compact vine. I captured these blooms open, in their best finery, but if you search online, you’ll discover a rather strange assortment of pictures. They’re testimony to the way the flower changes as it opens from a gawky youngster to something much more regal. 

At first the greenish white petals are scrolled into a pointed star shape. In some shots of young blooms, the centre looks positively spiderish; in others the outer petals have a green streak and the centre looks messy. Despite these growing pains, the breeder Raymond Evison’s website claims that this cultivar is always one of the most admired at shows. I can understand why.

Clematis ViennettaI’ve often seen him patrolling his award-winning flower displays at UK flower shows – and once in Philadelphia – and we’ve exchanged a few pleasantries. His standards are high and his collection broad and varied.

If you’ve fallen for this flower, you can buy it from his website – a great resource for any clematis lover – but just a word of warning. It is slightly tender so should survive an averagely cold English winter in a sheltered spot, but may be better in a conservatory. Pruning is reported to be easy – it only flowers on new growth so should be cut back to 6″ (15 cm) in late winter/early spring.

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