There are now a plethora of clematis cultivars in the same color style as C. 'Fond Memories', but in many ways it has proved itself to be the best of the bunch. The distinctive flowers, with their elegant pointed sepals and satin sheen, make this selection easy to pick out of a crowded field of similar hybrids.
One hears this range of clematis, starting in 1988 with the similar but more blowsy C. 'Omoshiro', referred to as "the outlined whites", which seems faint praise. C. 'Fond Memories' is indeed mainly white at a casual glance, with a pencil–thin outline of a color best described as magenta (or is it fuchsia, perhaps cerise?). How wide that outline is varies with the weather, as does how much feathering of the outline's color drifts into the white self. The earliest spring flowers and latest autumn blossoms are often heavily tinted with green, but the magenta outline persists. The anthers and connectives are dark, as are the pistols. The pollen is grey, and the filaments are light.
The underside of the sepal–or the outside when in bud–is more heavily veined with the outline color, and this seems to impart a silvery cast to the inner (or upper) surface, much the way the outside mauve bar of C. 'Huldine' gives interior of the open flower a similar shiny patina.
Raymond Evison praises this cultivar in his book, Clematis for Small Spaces (Timber Press, 2007) as being an excellent form from the offspring of Clematis florida for containers, and experience with the plant bears this out. At 2–2.5 meters tall, it is easy to control, especially when hard pruned in the winter. Add a loose growing variegated sedum as groundcover, such as S. 'Little Missy' or S. lineare 'Variegatum', and you have an ideal container planting for a sunny site. In the ground, C. 'Fond Memories' is handsomely contrasted by blue-hued evergreens, such as Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Blue Surprise'. Of course up isn't the only direction, and the vine can just as easily be allowed to wander over the teensy grey leaves of the low growing Cotoneaster thymifolia. Or, if you have a flower party for a garden, such as I do at home, it is well-paired with the hybrid musk rose Rosa 'Robin Hood' (each stem a bouquet of small cerise blossoms), with the red veined sorrel underneath (Rumex sanguineus).
No discussion of C. 'Fond Memories', or indeed any of this type of large-flowered hybrid, is complete without a look to the genetics. The earliest of the "outlined whites" are C. 'Omoshiro' and C. 'Betty Risdon', and both owe something of their color to C. 'Kathleen Wheeler'. Both can have huge flowers, with C. 'Betty Risdon' often producing 25 cm flowers in the spring flush.
What might be called the next generation in the early 2000s, including C. 'Fond Memories' (raised by Geoffrey Tolver in 1999 and introduced by Thorncroft Nursery in 2004), and C. 'Utopia' (by the Sugimotos in 2001) have Clematis florida in their blood. We know that Clematis florida var. sieboldiana is usually sterile, but not always; it is to a fecund seedhead of it and to Geoffrey Tolver's curiosity that we are indebted for C. 'Fond Memories'.
On a more sentimental note, was ever a clematis more aptly named? Sharon Kaito, the original volunteer coordinator at the Rogerson Clematis Garden, gave Brewster Rogerson his first specimen of C. 'Fond Memories'. She bought at through Thorncroft Nursery when the I.Cl.S. visited in 2004, to commemorate the many happy hours spent working with Brewster when the collection was still housed at Gutmann Nursery. Brewster was enamoured enough of the gift to include it in the Founder's Garden, where it is grown both in the ground and in a large container.