Plant Profile

 


Clematis Armandii
 
Clematis armandii
Climbers are often neglected in the garden. Frequently misunderstood as rampant or weedy, many are not. Instead, climbing and twining vines are actually amazing plants. With their ability to climb vertical surfaces and cover horizontal spans, vines are capable of transforming the commonplace landscape into a spectacular, multi-dimensional garden.
There are hundreds and hundreds of wonderful, garden worthy vines. Chiefs among those are the many species of showy-flowered Clematis, of which there are hundreds of species and hybrids alone. But even among the many Clematis, Clematis armandii, the Armand Clematis, stands out as an exceptional flowering vine. Clematis armandii is an evergreen, climbing vine native to China. Its dark, leathery leaves are very large and handsome. Individual leaves are oval or somewhat heart-shaped and can be 6 inches long and 2 inches wide. The foliage drapes from the woody, twining stems all year and keeps good colour throughout the winter. In early to mid spring, the vine is covered with charming, white, almost translucent flowers that age to a very light pinkish colour. Unlike the blooms of the more common, large-flowered Clematis hybrids, individual flowers of Clematis armandii are not exceptionally large, usually about 2 inches across. While their individual size is demure, since many flowers are in bloom at the same time, they create a lacy floral quilt that covers the vine with delicate beauty. The individual flowers, though, are quite lovely by themselves. The showy part of the Clematis flower is actually a different botanical part of theflower from the colourful part of most flowers-which are called petals. The showiest part of a Clematis flower is the 'sepal' which is more often an
insignificant, lower layer on the flowers of other plants whose 'petals' are the stars. The fruit of Clematis are also interesting. Brown, very small seed 'pods' with long, soft hairs develop through the summer. While these wonderfully silky pods are not especially eye-catching from a distance, they are an attractive reward for the attentive gardener in the fall. Culture of Clematis armandii is not difficult but does require more awareness than some plants. Clematis in general prefers, cool, moist, well-drained, loamy soils with the option to climb up into a warm, sunny perch for the foliage. These conditions will result in the best flowering. However, less than perfect sites can also give very good results with a little work to keep the roots cool by planting the vine in a partially shaded area, and perhaps using a light mulch. Partial shade is also helpful for this evergreen in preventing sun scorch on the leaves in winter. Clematis armandii is a rather uncommon plant but it is well worth a bit of hunting. There are some named cultivars, including a rare, true-pink flowered selection. 'Apple Blossom' has pink-tinted flowers and bronzy new foliage. 'Snowdrift' has especially clear white blooms. 'Farquhariana'  has pink blooms while 'Early Spring' is an early bloomer with pale pink flowers. Armand Clematis will cover a trellis, a fencepost, or Gazebo with a graceful blanket of delicate floral beauty in the spring, and handsome, dark green leaves throughout the year. It will eventually reach a height/length of around 30ft. Look for this lovely vine in garden centres or speciality nurseries so that you can bring its unique charm into your own garden.
 
                            
Lee Mullen  
Plant Profile with kind permission of 
  Kernxotica