Just when you think the garden has closed down for the winter, up pops a plant that shouts, “Look at me – I’m going to give you a Christmas present.”
Clematis cirrhosa var purpurascens ‘Landsowne Gem’ may be a mouthful of a name, but it’s worth remembering next time you go shopping for a climber. C. cirrhosa is an evergreen climber from countries bordering the Mediterranean (where it goes into a summer dormancy to cope with the hot, dry conditions), growing three to four metres in height. The flowers are pale greenish-yellow, almost white, covered in variable amounts of darker blotches. A couple of varieties have been selected for having blooms without these blotches, but ‘Lansdowne Gem’ has gone to the other extreme and dispensed with the lighter colour.
C. cirrhosa needs a sheltered sunny position (although it will tolerate part shade) in well-drained soil. Keeping the roots shaded will help as well. Leaf stems curl round a host or trellis to support the plant as it climbs. As the flowers hang down, it needs a place where you can look up into them to appreciate the dark interiors.
These start in the run-up to Christmas, and should continue for a couple of months.