Clematis 'By The Way'

Clematis of the Month for May 2022

described by Val Le May Neville-Parry

[Editor's note: Val Le May Neville-Parry lives in the UK and is the holder of a National Plant Collection of Clematis Montana]

At the autumn 2005 British Clematis Society conference, Mike Brown, then curator of the National Collection of Herbaceous Clematis and kind supplier of many montana clematis to The Collection, gave me four Clematis montanas – two being strong, unnamed seedlings. I named the pink seedling Clematis 'By The Way', the name of my home. In my garden it flowers from mid-April throughout May and occasionally produces later flushes of flowers during summer and early autumn.

C. 'By The Way'©Dianna Jazwinski
©Dianna Jazwinski
"Blooming from the base to the tip, a medium-growing cultivar, has soft pink, deliciously fragrant open blooms that develop into seed heads remaining attractive throughout autumn" — Andy McIndoe 2017

Mature plant in May 2016, 11 years after planting, growing over a small mature plum tree©Val Le May Neville-Parry
Mature plant in May 2016, 11 years after planting, growing over a small mature plum tree©Val Le May Neville-Parry

Garden writer, Andy McIndoe, wrote an article to accompany the fabulous pictures taken by Dianna Jazwinski about more compact Clematis montana plants suitable for smaller spaces. Twelve montana cultivars were featured in the Gardens Illustrated Special Edition 2017 The Plant Issue, pp54-9. A full page picture of C. 'By The Way' was on p.54 (see above picture).

I have been sowing seed from some of the more compact cultivars since the turn of the century. It's been exciting to see the results. Some pink, white and bicolour seedlings are multi-stemmed, only 1-2m tall after five years and covered with flowers of similar size to the more rampant cultivars. They are suitable to grow in tree pots and ideal to stand on pot feet on the smallest of patios.

C. 'By The Way' was planted beside a small mature plum tree which was, at that time, connected to an Egremont Russet Apple tree via a thick rope swag. The dying plum tree was replaced with a telegraph pole in 2020. The delicious perfume pervades the garden in late April throughout May. It has flowered from bottom to top year on year and was registered in May 2009. To your right you can see the mature plant in May 2016, 11 years after being planted, growing over a small mature plum tree. The plant has featured in publications including Plant Heritage Autumn 2015 p.36 and The Journal of the British Clematis Society 2016, pp.156-7. Several local young friends have recently taken and rooted cuttings as I am keen for this wonderful plant to be saved. The mature C. 'By The Way' is currently grown in just two gardens, here at By The Way and Highgrove.

[Editor's note: Highgrove is the private residence of TRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall]

Rooted cuttings at the New Leaf Plants Nursery©Nicole Higginson
Rooted cuttings at the New Leaf Plants Nursery©Nicole Higginson

David Higginson, of New Leaf Plants, took cuttings for the Highgrove Garden in June 2016. He and his wife, Nicole, have returned each year for cuttings of this and other Montana varieties and cultivars. New Leaf Plants, the family wholesale clematis nursery, plans to launch C. 'By The Way' Montana Group, in 2023. You can see a tray of rooted cuttings to your left, photo by Nicole Higginson.

C. 'By The Way' was at its best on 25th April 2020 when Russell Sachs, a professional photographer, came to view The Collection.

Density of flowers along a thick rope swag©Russell Sachs
Density of flowers along a thick rope swag©Russell Sachs

Bud, opening and wide open flowers©Russell Sachs
Bud, opening and wide open flowers©Russell Sachs

Single bloom opening©Russell Sachs
Single bloom opening©Russell Sachs

Bud just starting to open©Russell Sachs
Bud just starting to open©Russell Sachs

April 2022 New Leaf Plant of C. 'By The Way' in a 2 litre pot with plenty of fragrant flowers and buds©Val Le May Neville-Parry
April 2022 New Leaf Plant of C. 'By The Way' in a 2 litre pot with plenty of fragrant flowers and buds©Val Le May Neville-Parry

The storms, ferocious winds and sodden conditions during the winters of 2020 and 2021 have downed trees and caused the near demise of some of the best Clematis Montana plants in The Collection. C. 'Broughton Star' 20020001, C. 'Spring Joy' 20150002 and C. 'By The Way' 20050018, all lost their oldest, thickest stems. All three are in exposed positions here at the top of a south-west facing valley. Each subsequently produced strong new stems from the crown or base of the old wood. In mid-April I noticed that some of the new growth on C. 'By The Way' was dying back. The driving rain, recent storms with powerful gusts of wind whipping up the garden for days on end, plus heavy frosts on three consecutive nights in early April proved too much for some of the vulnerable new growth. Thank goodness for New Leaf Plants. They kindly sent a sensational plant full of buds and opening flowers. The challenge will be to find a prominent but more sheltered position for this special plant.

Description

[Editor's note: For a more recent on-line article about clematis montanas featuring Val Le May Neville-Parry see https://www.gardensillustrated.com/plants/best-clematis-montana/]


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



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