Joy Creek Nursery has introduced more than thirty of its own cultivars since it began in 1992, but, despite the fact that we have a large collection of clematis and have been fortunate to introduce many selections from other hybridizers, we have never released our own clematis. This year, 2012, changes that with the introductions of Clematis ‘Dark Dancer,’ Clematis ‘Pink Pinwheel’ and Clematis ‘Pagoda Pink.’
Clematis ‘Dark Dancer’ has had a long history. We discovered it sixteen years ago as a seedling in our stock fields. The four tapered sepals of its rich violet flowers were darker than we had ever seen on an alpina-type Clematis. They nodded at the ends of amazing purple black stems. This was a special plant, we felt, but we wanted assurance that it was unique enough to release. We propagated it, protected it and kept it alive in various sizes of pots for more than a decade while we evaluated it. Finally, as part of the celebration of our 20th Anniversary, we decided to make it available to home gardeners.
‘Dark Dancer’ is an April bloomer, often flowering during our rainiest days in the Portland area. The long sepals can measure up to 2 ½ inches long. A sparse interior skirt of “staminodes” is white and blends with the white filaments and pale yellow anther connectives. The burgundy buds are narrow and tapering.
In the Pacific Northwest, good morning light with relief from the afternoon sun in summer ensures a healthy plant. Prune lightly after the spring bloom if you want to promote a second, more modest flush of bloom. Otherwise, sit back and enjoy the attractive silvery seed heads. Because it blooms on wood produced during the previous year, do not prune it in the spring. This is a deciduous plant.
Clematis ‘Pink Pinwheel’ derives from a different species of clematis – Clematis integrifolia. This is an herbaceous species that does not climb but generally reaches 2 to 3 feet in height and flowers sequentially down its stems. Early in our history, we were inspired by the work of the Japanese clematis hybridizer Kazushige Ozawa who selected such plants as Clematis ‘Andante’ and Clematis ‘Hanajima’. We were fortunate to receive many unnamed seedlings from him. One of them has huge leaves and flowers and is double the height and size we usually associate with this species. We have used it as a seed source and raised countless seedlings from it. This is the first of eight that we ultimately planted out in our test garden. The blooms of ‘Pink Pinwheel’ have four tapered sepals that recurve and twist giving the flowers a real pinwheel appearance. The flowers face slightly outward away from the plant. There is light bronzing in the young leaves.
Its sister Clematis ‘Pagoda Pink’ is very different in appearance. Where the flowers of ‘Pink Pinwheel’ have a windswept look, those of ‘Pagoda Pink’ are contemplative, hanging downward. Its sepals recurve upward mimicking the roofline of a pagoda. Their rosy pink coloration is complimented by bronze young foliage which is present throughout the growing season. We cut this back by half after the first round of bloom and had a wonderful late bloom with lots of eye-catching bronze foliage.
Ultimately, both these plants reach about 2 ½ feet in height in our garden. We keep them upright by tying them loosely with garden twine to a sturdy stake apiece. If you do so, the plants will be a little more than a foot wide. If you let them sprawl, they will be much wider. Because they are herbaceous, cut them back to a few inches from the ground during the winter any time after a hard freeze.
These are the first of many new clematis that we hope to share with you.