From 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names by Diana Wells:

“Clematis vines were growing all over the world, both wild and in gardens….

“The most popular clematis grown is the gorgeous purple
C. × jackmanii. It was bred in the Jackman nursery in 1858 and is generally believed to be a cross between three other varieties. George Jackman published The Clematis as a Garden Flower, in which he suggested planting a clematis garden with the vines trained over picturesque old tree stumps. By then though, a new fashion had started of pegging down clematis vines to cover the ground and fill flower beds. William Robinson also suggested they should be allowed to grow through shrubs such as azaleas, ‘throwing veils over the bushes here and there.’

“The new British hybrids were introduced to America in the 1890s, but the British ‘wild’ garden style of Gertrude Jekyll and William Robinson never really became fashionable here, probably because America was wild enough as it was. Andrew Jackson Downing, the American landscape gardener, said that clematis ‘are capable of adding to the interest of the pleasure ground, when they are planted so as to support themselves on the branches of trees.’ They do not seem to have been allowed to sprawl over the flower beds.

“Clematis are most often seen nowadays growing up mailboxes, where they hang nicely in ‘veils.’ The flowers are breathtakingly beautiful, especially when seen up close — which we have an opportunity to do whenever we collect our junk mail and bills.”


In my garden, the first clematis vine to produce buds and flowers is a Bernadine Clematis. The photos below span a couple of weeks, from the early April arrival of wee buds to the appearance of full grown flowers by mid-month.

The first two images might be photos of the smallest flower bud I’ve photographed; it was barely an eighth of an inch long, yet still capable of reflecting sunbeams in such a way that it looks like it’s got its own light source. It seemed too fragile to even stay on the vine, and yet….

…. a few days later, the buds (and vines) are a lot more robust. The second photo below shows the same bud from above, in its upstanding position.

I took these photos a couple of days before the flowers opened. In the last three images you can see hints at some of the color that will make its way into nature’s final version of the flower.

Here are two of the blooms, over a few days. The first four photos were taken two or three days before the last four. The intensity of the colors wanes somewhat as the flower gets larger. By the time the petals have reached full size, they’ve flattened quite a bit, and less shadow along the petals’ centers reflects light differently. The blue color softens and purple shifts to lavender, getting lighter each day. The petals will turn almost white, until they detach in the wind or rain and blow away.


Thanks for taking a look!

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