C. 'Stand by Me' PPAF see Note 1, bred by Hans Hansen, Director of New Plant Development,
Walters Gardens Inc., Zeeland, Michigan, USA
Thanks to the expanding network of Clematis aficionados, collectors, and breeders on Facebook, I discovered a new friend and fellow Clematarian, Hans Hansen. I love interspecific crosses, and thanks to Hans, a new one is being brought to market in 2018 that is outstanding. Hans posted photos of 'Stand by Me' in late spring on Facebook and I saw the plant and drooled, immediately assuming it was a C. fremontii cross due to the sessile leaves and erect stem. Hans confirmed the parentage of C. integrifolia × C. fremontii, and generously offered to send me plants of 'Stand by Me' PPAF . I opened the box and fell in love. The plants were well rooted 2 gallon pots, shipped with great attention to detail, flowering and in perfect shape. And of course, I wanted to know everything about the plant. 'Stand by Me' was crossed in 2008 from an integrifola plant that Hans liked and a species fremontii plant see Note 2. At this time, he lived and worked in Minnesota. He collected the seeds from the cross and stored them in the freezer. They were then taken to Michigan with him when he relocated to work with Walters Gardens Inc.(WGI). There they were germinated and grown on. Hans recalled "not many seedlings".
The field during the test growing
The seed protocol at WGI includes germination in open, individual 72 cell trays, and after 18 months initial seedling selections are lined out in a research field. Promising selections are flagged for further evaluation. In the fall, they are moved to a central complex in Zeeland, Michigan for final trial. This clematis was never flagged or identified to be moved on. Hans saw the value of the cross and in the scope of his position moved the plant forward himself, where it ended up in the rows of field grown trial plants. I am a big believer that a fantastic plant will find a way to get to market, and the rest of the story of 'Stand by Me' rather supports that. First of all, there was only one plant by the time that Hans moved it forward. Next, luck would have it that the plant was placed at the end of a long row of trial plants of all types so it was easily seen. Various hurdles in propagation also led to the buzz about the plant see Note 3, and by the time it was 4 years old, word was spreading about the plant's attributes and it was selected by Proven Winners for their program. Those attributes include a noticeably erect habit requiring minimum support (also attractive if left to sprawl on or through small shrubbery), a long bloom span see Note 4, and impressive remontant capability. Han's aim when making the cross was to increase the bloom span of fremontii while retaining some of the species attributes of interesting foliage and an easy to grow garden plant.
The plant is up to 40 inches tall, simple, ovate, mostly sessile leaves that are 6.35 cm wide, 9.5 cm long. The reverse of the leaves is a striking and contrasting burgundy-bronze when emerging, with the color lasting up thru the initial flowering. Hans describes the flowering as "an initial terminal flower emerges from a pair of leaves like a shuttlecock". While he works with a wide variety of plant genera, his enthusiasm for Clematis is evident, and there are future releases just as interesting as 'Stand by Me' to come. 'Stand by Me' was in such good shape on arrival I kept the plants in my potting area and watched them as they continued to flower. I thought about what the chances were of a F1 generation interspecific Clematis cross, from a very small crop of seedlings, being so charming, with so many attributes... then proving itself to be so garden worthy. Slim indeed. This plant indeed has a lucky, but deserving, trajectory and I think it will be an important introduction. The Proven Winners designation will assure a well grown plant is made available at retail in a variety of channels, perhaps changing the gardener's perception of, and experience with what a Clematis can be in the garden.
C. 'Stand By Me' PPAF
C. 'Stand By Me' PPAF showing the strong red reverse on the leaves
I have been test growing the plant for a short while and it has already revealed some outstanding attributes, including many long-lasting flowers, and quick regrowth. When I was ready to plant them out, I cut them hard to the ground and placed them in a border with other integrifolia group Clematis. Within 2 weeks, the plants had sent new shoots up several inches, and by 3 weeks, a flower bud was evident on one of the plants. In 2018 look for 'Stand by Me' PPAF at nurseries everywhere in the USA, and soon then to the EU, as I do not think there is anything that can hold such as wonderful plant back. Note 1: PPAF = Plant Patent Applied For Note 2: The pollen parent fremontii selection is native to Nebraska and has been sold by wholesaler Blue Bird Nursery, which was founded by the late Harlan Hammernik. Note 3: The propagation is impressive, with 18,000 plants being prepared for 2018 release, and at least 20, 000 planned for 2019. All of the clones have originated from the one plant, and to date tissue culture has not been tested on the plant. Note 4: In field trial, the bloom span was from late May thru early August without a cut back.
Ten days after being hard cut and planted in the garden,
it shows the amazing remontant capability of the plant.
It was cut to the the ground hard when I planted it out.