I saw for the first time this beautiful Clematis 'Utopia' in a garden during the visit of the International Clematis Society in 2008 to Japan. Immediately I was very impressed with the soft colour of the tepals.
Clematis 'Utopia' is a Japanese hybrid of Clematis florida and a relatively unknown large-flowered cultivar. This clematis was raised by Kozo Sugimoto in 2001. Kozo Sugimoto has raised a lot of beautiful cultivars in Japan, which are becoming increasingly available outside of Japan, particularly in Europe.
This compact plant is usually not more than 2.5 - 3 metres tall. The intrigued flowers are 15 - 18 cms across, pink, the upper side being pale at the base of the tepals, the shading getting gradually deeper towards the edges, and with the lower side pink-violet. The tepals are oval-shaped, pointed and have a silky shine, providing a pretty contrast to violet anthers on rose-white filaments. The flowers have 6 tepals.
Flowers appear late June / July and again in September / October. The plant grows well in a shaded position and has, under these conditions, the best colours. It climbs by means of leaf petioles.
The pruning group is 3 and the plant can be pruned very hard. Pruning keeps the plant in good condition and worthwhile in order to see the green leaves formed through the season.
You can place the plant against a wall, trellis or fence but combinations with shrubs and roses are also worth trying. The colour of the plant can be used very well with garden plants and therefore you can create beautiful combinations of garden plants and Clematis 'Utopia'. There are many shrubs which flower early in the year - by placing this clematis against these shrubs, you will get 2-3 times the number of flowers in the shrubs. When I visited Clematis Nursery Böttcher in Belgium I saw Clematis 'Utopia' in a hanging basket and that was a beautiful usage of this clematis.
This cultivar is hardy in zones 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9.
The plant needs good soil and during spring and summer, sufficient water and nutrition. Humus applied during the year keeps the soil in a better condition for clematis.
Editor's Note: Ton had hoped to illustrate his Clematis of the Month with photos of his own C. 'Utopia', but the plant wouldn't cooperate and flower in time. It has done so now, so I'm pleased to add the following three pictures from Ton.
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