The petticoats surrounding the pompoms of three Clematis 'Evijohill' JOSEPHINE™ blossoms.
C. 'Evijohill' JOSEPHINE™ is a delightful and unusual clematis that blooms for me in my Seattle garden in May and June. Many who visit the garden and see this plant growing up the side of a tree are awestruck; others are not so enchanted, finding C. 'Evijohill' JOSEPHINE™ to be a bit garish in form and color. Different strokes for different folks!
Six to eight lilac/pink tepals with dark pink central bars and a girth of five or six inches (13 to 15 cm) unfurl first from a chubby bud as if to draw attention to the creamy white ball in the middle. The ball turns out to be a fat cluster of smaller tepals that are colored similarly to the outer petticoat but open at a much slower rate. Eventually, the petticoat browns and falls off, leaving the central pompom, which continually opens out new tepals as others fall away. Individual blossoms sometimes last in my garden as long as six weeks! But they gradually get smaller and smaller, paler and paler, until I finally get tired of them and cut them off.
C. 'Evijohill' JOSEPHINE™ was originally purchased in 1980 as an unknown plant by Josephine Hill for her English garden. Realizing it was a very special clematis, she passed it on to Raymond Evison who introduced it into commerce in 1998. Though the parents of C. 'Evijohill' JOSEPHINE™ are unknown, I would not be surprised to find that C. 'Nelly Moser' or one of her look-alikes is one parent. Unfortunately, we have to wait for DNA to tell us the true tale. Some clematarians speculate that this clematis is a chance seedling while others suspect it to be a sport of a different clematis. The blossoms are sterile because they produce no stamens.
As far as we know, C. 'Evijohill' JOSEPHINE™ produces only doubles. One year I got a very late bloom on new wood (July 17th). It was much smaller than the spring blooms at only about three inches (7.5 cm), but sported the usual central ball. The tepals were shorter and rounder, and the color was also different, being nearly white with a wider, lighter pink bar than in the spring blossoms. It reminds me a little bit of C. 'Evipo021' CHANTILLY™.
I always enjoy seeing the first flowers of C. 'Evijohill' JOSEPHINE™ as she is one of the first of the large-flowered clematis to bloom in my garden in the spring and is a harbinger of much more to come.