Saturday, September 19, 2009

Clematis heracleifolia China Valley type

I remember these plants from my first tour in China Valley. Lawrence Lee, the curator at that time and of course my direct supervisor, collected seed in China. When I arrived a few years later they had been germinated and potted into 1 qt pots. There were many of them; I don't remember the numbers but a lot! We planted them out about halfway down China Valley and there are a few dozen of them still there. They're nice compact upright plants that top out at about 2 feet. Interestingly about half of them have pale blue flowers, the other half soft pink.

I am not a taxonomist so I'm not going to challenge the name of this plant but I will observe that the Clematis heracleifolia that I am familiar with typically grow to twice that height, have larger (2x?) flowers that are almost all a darker blue color, and spread by rhizomes. Their flowers also have, what I consider to be, a delightful perfume. On the downside they tend to lodge, or flop because of their height. Their stems just aren't rigid enough to hold them upright. Still, they are wonderful plants in the right place.

Regardless of the names, Larry's collection has at least two very useful traits: they don't spread by rhizomes, and they stay compact and upright. They're in full flower right now; small grouping so of them abut the China Valley Path midway down the valley.

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