Clematis montana 'The Jewell'

Clematis of the Month for March 2020

described by Val Le May Neville-Parry

All photos ©Val Le May Neville-Parry unless otherwise stated


C. 'The Jewell'©Dianna Jazwinski

C. 'The Jewell' ©Dianna Jazwinski

C. 'The Jewell' leaves and flowers in October©Val Le May Neville-Parry

C. 'The Jewell' leaves and flowers in October

In 2004, I purchased a Clematis montana plant from a local nursery. It was labeled C. chrysocoma 'Continuity'. It established quickly, with its two stems romping through a little Egremont Russet apple tree in the south-west corner of my lawn. Such pretty short stemmed leaves and delightful bunches of pink and white flowers, arranged like bridesmaids posies, standing proud above the leaves. True to the name, sprays of flowers appear throughout the summer into October. In 2006 a further two stems emerged from the crown, and the display has been increasingly spectacular. It is one of the most admired plants in The National Collection. When the Gardeners World team came to film in May 2017 it was the one they selected as background. We needed to ensure it was correctly labeled as I had seen another plant with the same name but clearly not the same plant. The then International Clematis Registrar, Duncan Donald, asked Raymond Evison for an opinion. Raymond confirmed that my plant was not the original of that name. I was free to re-name it.

For years, other British Clematis Society members and I had tried in vain to root cuttings of the wonderful plant. In early summer 2017, David Jewell, Head of Collections at Hilliers Arboretum, gave material to Alan Postill, Master Propagator at Hilliers for over fifty years. Alan succeeded in rooting several cuttings and getting them through their first winter. Alan used small bark and perlite discs held within a collar of paper webbing to strike his cuttings. The discs swell when watered. Although Alan achieved good initial rooting, the immature, thick and brittle roots were unable to push through the firm collars so most of the plants failed to develop further through the spring and summer 2018. Luckily, on 3rd October 2017, Alan gave me two cuttings with embryonic roots. I carefully removed the collars before potting on. These two cuttings grew rapidly, with several stems per plant, so by September 2018 both plants were mature enough to go into the ground, their roots filling two litre pots. Armed with tips from Alan, I succeeded in rooting ten cuttings during the summer of 2018, keeping them in the hydropod until mid-August 2018 before potting up. At last! Now for a name. Given David's surname and the beauty of the plant 'The Jewell' was an obvious choice. Without David's contact and support, we wouldn't have rooted cuttings.
3/10/2017 - Alan showing root formation©Val Le May Neville-Parry 13/8/2018 - Embrionic roots of my plants©Val Le May Neville-Parry

3/10/2017 - Alan showing root formation

13/8/2018 - Embrionic roots of my plants

It is not just that the plant is one of the most spectacular cultivars in The Collection. Because of repeated lack of success in rooting cuttings, in November 2014, I sowed seed from C. 'The Jewell'.

By 2019 there were five mature, but dwarf, plants. Perfect for deep pots on a tiny patio. C. 'Chloe' has good pink, delicately veined, perfumed flowers and was named and taken by Matt Biggs for his younger daughter. In 2016 there were three flowers with six sepals and one flower with five sepals. A bonus is that the young leaves are a different shape to most in the Collection and the immature leaves were beetroot red on the reverse.
10/5/2016 - C. 'Chloe' (front)©Val Le May Neville-Parry 10/5/2016 - C. 'Chloe' (reverse)©Val Le May Neville-Parry

10/5/2016 - C. 'Chloe' (front)

10/5/2016 - C. 'Chloe' (reverse)

10/9/2016 - Matt collecting the plant©Val Le May Neville-Parry

10/9/2016 - Matt collecting the plant

A second seedling is named C. 'Emma Joan', for a beautiful young lady who used to come and perform amazing gymnastic routines on my sloping lawn – sometimes in her wellington boots! Flower stems are 9-13cm long, blooms are 6cm diameter, pink and white on the front with creamy-lemon-green with pink flush edging reverse, with long central boss and slightly wavy sepals. C. 'Emma Joan' was planted in the ground in 2017, flowered well in 2018 but failed to flower in 2019. Dug up and placed in a long pot, she quickly recovered and sent out two strong new stems which are budding up well and should produce flowers in late April / May 2020. C. 'Emma Joan' is already registered.
10/8/2016 - C. 'Emma Joan' with my friend, Mary©Val Le May Neville-Parry 25/5/2016 - First flowers©Val Le May Neville-Parry

10/8/2016 - C. 'Emma Joan' with my friend, Mary

25/5/2016 - First flowers of C. 'Emma Joan'

C. 'Emma Joan' flowers and leaves, front©Val Le May Neville-Parry C. 'Emma Joan' flower, reverse©Val Le May Neville-Parry

Flowers and leaves of C. 'Emma Joan', front, side and

reverse showing the exquisite shape and colours of the flowers

New stems of C. 'Emma Joan' emerging after having been potted up©Chris King 19/2/2020 - C. 'Emma Joan' showing early leaf and bud development©Val Le May Neville-Parry

New stems of C. 'Emma Joan' emerging
after having been potted up, ©Chris King

19/2/2020 - C. 'Emma Joan' showing early leaf and bud development

C. 'Alan Postill' is a third seedling. It seemed only right to name it for Alan, considering that he had been the first to achieve rooted cuttings of C. 'The Jewell'. It is a pretty white flushed with pink flower with glorious shiny bronze foliage. Alan and Jacqueline are delighted with the plant and Alan has already struck cuttings. As it has been in the same pot for three years, the plan is to saw off the bottom third of the roots, renew the compost and reduce all stems by half before feeding and watering immediately after flowering in 2020. This should encourage good root and stem regrowth during the summer and another fine display of flowers in spring 2021.
15/5/2019 - C. 'Alan Postill' flowering, showing bronze leaves©Val Le May Neville-Parry 4/8/2019 - Bronze leaves and seed heads of C. 'Alan Postill'©Val Le May Neville-Parry

15/5/2019 - C. 'Alan Postill' flowering, showing bronze leaves

4/8/2019 - Bronze leaves and seed heads of C. 'Alan Postill'

15/5/2019 - Alan and Jacquline Postill showing dwarf nature of the Montana©Val Le May Neville-Parry

15/5/2019 - Alan and Jacquline Postill showing dwarf nature of the montana

A fourth dwarf seedling is C. 'Brian Collingwood'. Named for the editor of the British Clematis Society Journal, this plant has tiny, grey-green leaves, many stems cascading down, with pure white flowers at the tips of each stem. It failed to produce cutting material in 2019 until being re-potted and all stems cut back by half in mid-June. Within four weeks there was luxuriant new growth on every stem, resulting in a bushy plant. Despite being rather late, cuttings were taken in mid-July and one rooted. Sadly it got saturated during the winter when it rained and the cold frame lid was off. I plan to take more cuttings early summer 2020 and hope to root a few for Brian and his friends.
19/5/2019 - C. 'Brian Collingwood' multi-stemmed but sparse growth©Val Le May Neville-Parry August 2019 - C. 'Brian Collingwood' after mid-June pruning©Val Le May Neville-Parry

19/5/2019 - C. 'Brian Collingwood' multi-stemmed but sparse growth

August 2019 - C. 'Brian Collingwood' after mid-June pruning

February 2020 - C. 'Brian Collingwood' budding up nicely©Val Le May Neville-Parry

February 2020 - C. 'Brian Collingwood' budding up nicely and showing
"hanging basket" habit, embryonic leaf formation

The parent plant, C. 'The Jewell', is a relatively compact Montana plant. It has been in my poor, stony soil since 2004. It has survived the host tree being uprooted twice and, during the mild but sodden 2019/20 autumn and winter months, the many emerging stems were devoured by deer. In addition, the organic rope supporting the stems from the host Egremont Russet tree to the nearby laurel hedge, rotted. It has been a trying winter! I barricaded the bed with stakes and replaced the rope. I am praying that the plant will survive and the 2020 display will again be sensational.

On the afternoon of Wednesday 3rd and morning of Wednesday 17th June 2020, Plant Heritage is holding propagation sessions here at By The Way. International Clematis Society members would be welcome to join us to take cuttings of C. 'The Jewell', its seedlings and other Clematis Montana plants. Please email me - val@lmnp.co.uk - if you would like to come. I am 78 and this is the only Clematis Montana Group National Collection in existence. We need to ensure these wonderful plants are widely available for people to enjoy in years to come.

Members might be interested to know that C. 'The Jewell' Montana Group has been entered for the RHS Threatened Plant of the Year 2020 competition.

Val Le May Neville-Parry Val Le May Neville-Parry



Return to top of page

Return to Homepage

@ K.Woolfenden