Clematis 'Solina'

Clematis of the Month for July 2013

C. 'Solina'©Ken Woolfenden

Clematis 'Solina' is one of the first of the late flowering clematis group to flower in my garden. It is of Viticella extraction and puts on amazing growth every year as I prune it to one foot from the ground. It is a very strong grower with thick stems that easily scale my 2 metre (6 feet) high trellis and one of the best plants for a reliable, fantastic display every year. Usually it is in flower by the end of June and then flowers for at least a month so it will be in flower for the whole of July. At the moment I can see that the flower buds are developing quickly. When I see C. 'Solina' in flower I will know that summer has finally arrived!

The colour is difficult to describe and may be why it is not as popular as it deserves to be. The colour is similar to C. 'Victoria' but it is a much more striking flower with slightly frilled edges and a slight stripe in the middle of the tepal which in some records is described as paler and in others as darker than the main flower colour. As you can see in the photo below of the newly opened single flower, the colour starts out the same all over and then fades and the bar develops making the flower more interesting. The flower is described as 9 to 15 cm (3 to 6 inches) wide. The anthers are yellow giving it a light centre.

Newly opened flower of C. 'Solina©Ken Woolfenden

A newly opened flower of C. 'Solina'

I grow my C. 'Solina' with other blue clematis so I have a blue wall of clematis. C. 'Solina' does appear to be bluer when with other blue clematis, below shown with C. 'Jenny'. C. 'Semu' usually joins with the other plants and the effect is very pleasing with the different shades of blue and blue/lilac and the different shapes of the flowers.

C. 'Jenny' on the left and C. 'Solina', appearing slightly more lavender©Ken Woolfenden

C. 'Jenny' on the left and C. 'Solina', appearing slightly more lavender

C. 'Solina' is from Poland and was bred by the famous late clematis breeder Brother Stefan Franczak. Brother Stefan bred many excellent clematis and I bought my plant back home from a visit there in 2002 with the International Clematis Society. Looking back through our pictures of the visit in 2002, I found a 35mm slide showing Brother Stefan Franczak with C. 'Solina' (left) in the gardens of the Monastery where he lived in Poland. He is talking with two previous Presidents of this society; Klaus Körber and Szczepan Marczyñski.

Left to right: C. 'Solina, Klaus Körber, Szczepan Marczyñski with Brother Stefan Franczak©Ken Woolfenden

Left to right: C. 'Solina, Klaus Körber, Szczepan Marczyñski with Brother Stefan Franczak

Brother Stefan named C. 'Solina' after a town in Southern Poland but I do not believe that we know why - other than because it is a nice name. Solina is quite close to Zakopane, a town we visited on our trip to Poland in 2002 which is right on the Slovak border and on the edge of the Tatra Mountains National Park. Solina is not that far away on the most south easterly edge of Poland and there is a Lake and Dam which is an artificial storage reservoir which occupies an area of 22 square km. On Solina Lake there is the highest dam in Poland, which has almost 82 meters height.

It may take a bit more effort but C. 'Solina' can be acquired from a few clematis nurseries across the world and I would recommend that you seek it out and grow it in your garden.

Fiona Woolfenden Fiona Woolfenden

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