"Pay attention to the world." -- Susan Sontag
Clematis Reincarnated

Clematis Reincarnated

From “Tangled Garden” by Janet Clarke in Oblique Strokes: Poems, edited by Barbara Myers:

Two angels reside in the garden.
One dark,
hands tucked, wings folded behind her head,
she crouches, brooding into a murky pool.
One light,
wings unfurled, serene among the ferns,
she holds a baby bird.

Messy untamed greenery reaches
for space and sun,
perennial flowers and ferns checked only
by the wooden fence
vined over by clematis, honeysuckle, ivy….

I am comfortable here
with my coffee and my solitude
and my messy untamed soul.

From “The Garden of Eros” by Oscar Wilde in The Complete Works of Oscar Wilde: Volume 1, edited by Bobby Fong and Karl Beckon:

Yon curving spray of purple clematis
     Whose gorgeous dye outflames the Tyrian King,
And fox-gloves with their nodding chalices,
     But that one narciss which the startled Spring
Let from her kirtle fall when first she heard
In her own woods the wild tempestuous song of
          summer’s bird,

Ah! leave it for a subtle memory
     Of those sweet tremulous days of rain and sun,
When April laughed between her tears to see
     The early primrose with shy footsteps run
From the gnarled oak-tree roots till all the wold,
Spite of its brown and trampled leaves, grew bright with
          shimmering gold….


Here we have a couple dozen photos of a clematis plant and its flowers, currently growing in a tall pot in my back yard along with its friend, a Concord Grapevine. Both have been featured here more than once before (see, for example, Bernadine Clematis, 2022 Version; One Clematis, Two Clematis; Plant Entanglements (1 of 2); and Plant Entanglements (2 of 2)) — but the clematis flowers haven’t been seen for a couple of years, until a few weeks ago.

Back in the olden days of 2021 and 2022, I had several clematis in pots on my back deck, which is where I photographed them for the previous posts. I’ve written before about the two big deep freezes of winter 2022-2023, which destroyed all sorts of plants throughout much of Georgia, including my clematis. When spring 2023 rolled around, several of the plants produced a feeble batch of leaves, so I replanted them in the Concord Grapevine’s pot — where they pushed out a few stringy vines, then shriveled up and disappeared. Gone forever, or so I thought.

Between thunderstorms in March and April this year, I noticed some new vines — quite a few new vines followed by flower buds (like those in the first five photos below), then with some petals that show a lot of very soft purple in morning light that dissipates as the sun rises. Of course as soon they opened, I got them to pose for a couple of photoshoots — then realized the flowers have become something quite different from those they produced before. This led me to learn about some new botanical terms — plant reversion and back mutation — where a plant’s flowers return to an earlier color and form after it’s been stressed by transplanting, and is described in The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Botany as “a reverse mutation in which a gene reverts to the original standard [or wild-type] form.” How cool is that!

To my way of thinking: my clematis have been reincarnated, to what they used to be before someone changed them into what I had. Whatever these have become, they’re no longer recognizable by their original names, so I’ve decided to name them after my dog — and call them Clematis Lobo Lila — since his name is Lobo and the flowers are light purple or lilac in color. As you can probably imagine, he’s thrilled….

Thanks for reading and taking a look!


  1. Tim Lamb

    Allowed to have multiple favorites … this one is lovely. The flower appears to be a light shade lavender, when I believe its actually white — and again, your close focus of this banner is outstanding.

    I propose there be a way to “love” something rather than just to “like” something. I think I honestly like them all but this one should get a “double like” or a “love” …

    Great post!

    1. Dale

      Yes, I was glad to see it recovered — even as a “different” flower. It produced about a dozen blooms and the vine is still growing, so next year it will probably make even more.

      Thanks for the comment!

Leave a reply ...