The genus Clematis consists of over 280 species of climbing and woody herbaceous species, mostly deciduous, but some evergreen. The two characteristics mostly associated with clematis are their habit of climbing (though by no means all species do so) and their beautiful flowers. Climbing is achieved by specially adapted petioles (leaf stalks) which wrap around suitable supports. If such supports are not available, they will not climb, say, a wall, but grow as a tangled mass or out along the ground. The ability to climb gives the genus its name, which is derived from the Greek klema, a vine-branch or twig.
From France and Italy:
C. vitalba (Traveller's Joy, Old Man’s Beard)
A fast growing, deciduous climber. Seedlings have one to three leaflets and the mature plant has five leaves. The flower appears in summer and early autumn, is creamy white in colour and is perfumed. The characteristic feathery seed heads give this climber its name and appear from autumn to spring.
C. flammula (Fragrant Virgin's Bower) A twining plant, it is fast growing. A very ornamental plant, the flowers are very fragrant. They have a pronounced smell of meadowsweet, almost too powerful when inhaled close-up.
C. viticella (Italian Clematis) The flaring, bell shaped flowers on this vigorous, hardy Clematis are borne in great numbers from mid-Summer to early Fall. A fast, twining grower, it can easily reach 15’ to 20’ by its second year.
Fragrant Virgin's Bower