Five great early clematis

If you love flowers in the garden then you really should consider growing clematis if you don't already. These colourful climbers add a vibrant dimension to trellis, fencing and supports with varieties that flower right through the season.

Clematis koreana 'Amber'
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Taylor’s Clematis have been growing and showing these amazing plants for the last 35 years. They feed the plants with Flower Power and win RHS Gold Medals again and again. Here are five great winter and early spring clematis for your garden, as recommended by Taylor’s Clematis.

Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’

This is a really great winter flowering variety, it starts flowering in November and goes right through to February, with the added benefit of having an injection of colour too to its flowers, (all the rest of the winter ones are white or cream). It’s evergreen, so you’ve got foliage coverage all year round too. Bred by clematis expert, Raymond Evison, and introduced in 1989 it was raised from seed collected in Mallorca by Allen Peterson. Raymond named it after his first daughter who had freckles as a little girl.

This attractive clematis likes a sunny south or west facing aspect that is sheltered from strong winds. It’s quite happy to scramble up trees or fences without any pruning required, but it can also be cut to shape straight after flowering if you have it growing in a pot or around an obelisk. The pretty nodding flowers attracts bees and butterflies at a time of year when there is little else around for them to find and the seed heads that follow on are also attractive. Awarded the RHS AGM (Award of Garden Merit) so it’s a very reliable form and extremely garden worthy.

Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’

Clematis cartmanii ‘Avalanche’ 

Wonderful free flowering evergreen variety with pearly white blooms as big as a tennis ball all through early spring to early summer and interesting seed heads. It has fantastic, dissected (chiselled/wispy) foliage that is very thick to the touch and very glossy in appearance and makes this a very popular clematis.

Raised by Robin Whitenin in the UK and introduced in 1999. Prefers a sunny or semi-shaded spot with shelter from strong winds. No pruning required (however you can tidy after flowering if you wish). Ideal for covering walls and fences or just in-between shrubs. Can be grown in a pot or planter using an obelisk for support and grows to 8-10 feet in height. RHS AGM (award of garden merit).

Clematis cartmanii ‘Avalanche’

Clematis macropetala ‘Country Rose’ 

This is an extremely hardy and very versatile clematis variety that will survive very windy (coastal) conditions and very low temperatures down to -30C, so you can plant it in any aspect at all and even grow it in a pot if you wish. Flowering from April to the end of May and reaching heights of around 6-8 feet with pretty, dainty nodding pink flowers up and down the plant for a good length of time. It has great fluffy seed heads after flowering, that even have the ability to self-seed when they eventually fall off. Attracts bees and butterflies, no pruning required.

Clematis macropetala ‘Country Rose’

Clematis alpina ‘Helsingbourg’ 

The alpina clematis are very similar to the macropetala species (the only main difference is that the alpinas have less petals). This pretty, soft liliac variety is extremely hardy and will survive very windy (coastal) conditions and very low temperatures down to -30C. It’s very versatile, you can plant it in any aspect at all and even grow it in a pot if you wish. It flowers from April to the end of May and reaches heights of around 6-8 feet with lots of flowers up and down the plant, that are attractive to butterflies and bees. After flowering it has great fluffy seed heads and will even self-seed when the seed heads eventually fall off. No pruning required. RHS AGM (award of garden merit).

Clematis alpina ‘Helsingbourg’

Clematis koreana ‘Amber’ 

Now this is something very special! This is the winner of the RHS plant of the year award at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2016. Not only does it do everything that the alpina & macropetala varieties do, but it goes that extra mile, in the sense that it flowers again in late summer. It bears prolific creamy yellow (amber) coloured flowers in profusion from May to June then again in August/ September time, with no pruning required at all. It will grow in any aspect and will put up with anything that the weather can throw at it, making it a very versatile clematis that can be grown in a pot or planter, or just in a garden environment quite happily. The seed heads are amazing too!

Clematis koreana ‘Amber’
Jean Vernon

About Jean Vernon

Jean Vernon is a slightly quirky, bee friendly, alternative gardener. She doesn’t follow the rules and likes to push the boundaries a bit just to see what happens. She has a fascination for odd plants, especially edibles and a keen interest in growing for pollinators especially bees. She’s rather obsessed with the little buzzers. Telegraph Gardening Correspondent, mostly testing and trialing products and Editor-In-Chief for Richard Jackson’s Garden.
@TheGreenJeanie
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