Clematis 'Poldice'

Clematis of the Month for June 2014

C. 'Poldice'©Charlie Pridham
©Charlie Pridham

I cannot remember when I first heard about Clematis 'Poldice' but I have been growing it in my garden for 3 or 4 years. It may be that I met Charlie Pridham, who raised it, at a British Clematis Society meeting and decided that it looked interesting and decided to try it. It has performed well in my garden for a number of years, blending with a pink rose, and giving a lovely show of medium sized hanging bells showing its viticella ancestry. The colour is hard to describe as Charlie confirms on the Roseland House Garden and Nursery web site:
C. 'Poldice'©Ken Woolfenden
©Ken Woolfenden
"The flowers are a shade of violet blue surrounding a white centre, they nod downward on long stems and it makes an excellent cut flower. I have found this cultivar one of the most difficult to photograph as the shade of violet/blue/purple is not only seen by different people as different colours but changes during the flowering season and with the aspect of the plant. All the pictures here are an accurate colour representation!"

As you can see the photos on this web page indeed vary from violet to blue. On a dull day I would say that Charlie's photo is the most accurate but on a sunny day the flower looks violet.

Clematis 'Poldice' was one of the plants that were considered in the RHS Trial of Viticella plants held at Wisley, UK which finished in 2012. We were delighted when C. 'Poldice' was given an award by the RHS. I assume that its long blooming time and the cascade of many flowers won the day.

Charlie takes up the story describing the journey of the new plant as he wrote in the British Clematis Society's August Newsletter in 2013:

"Its always nice to receive good news, so to hear this February that after 3 years of trials at Wisley, that one of our clematis raisings was to be honoured with an AGM was a welcome pat on the back.

All Clematis growers have their own techniques for how they raise new plants from seed, mine has always been a rather simplistic approach, first I appraise the clematis in the garden, and when I think "That's a good one" I will look to see if it's a good seed setter, if yes I make a mental note to collect seed from it in the autumn, not all our plants set seed as we have a very cool damp climate, I tend to favour plants in the pots growing in our stock tunnel as they are the most likely to cross with something interesting.

By 2002 I had become a huge fan of C. 'Black Prince', I got hold of this in 1999 and it soon became clear it's a cracking plant. If it has a fault (this was something that was to count against it on the trials), it is having a dark eye; it does however set good seed!

The seed germinated quickly and by 2003 I had small seedlings, most I threw away but one or two of the stronger growing plants with different looking seedling leaves I kept. These were duly planted out in our fruit cage and left to get on with it, no water or help provided. By the time they flowered there was only one plant in the race, having decided I would register it we then had to think up a name. Mostly I use names that reflect my local area or tin mining; since we regularly walk the dog down the local Poldice valley past Poldice tin mine, C. 'Poldice' seemed a good choice.

I trialled the plants in several parts of the garden before deciding yes it was a good un! In 2006 we registered 'Poldice' and started selling it, we thought it was good but of course no one had heard of it so when we were invited to supply plants for the Trials at Wisley of viticella types we decided to stick our necks out and include C. 'Poldice'.

The RHS Wisley trials started in 2008 with the plants being grown on in situ, with judging in 2009, 2010, 2011 and finishing in 2012. We were invited to attend one of the monthly judging panels in both 2010 and 2011.

The process was fascinating to watch at first hand; my only criticism would be that all the plants were grown on a post and it was a system which did not favour some varieties as much as others.

But on balance over the whole season and in all weather, the regular inspections of the plants comes up with as good a guide as you are likely to be able to for gardeners."

Charlie's Roseland House web site provides a final comment on the parentage of C. 'Poldice': "We believe it probably crossed with its neighbour Clematis 'Danae' due to this parentage it has been placed in the viticella collection. Growth is strong and healthy, it is happy in any aspect and flowers profusely on new growth, so can be hard pruned in winter."

C. 'Poldice'©Ken Woolfenden
©Ken Woolfenden
C. 'Poldice' growing in the RHS Viticella Trial at Wisley
C. 'Poldice'©Ken Woolfenden
©Ken Woolfenden
Looking up into the flowers of C. 'Poldice' at the RHS Wisley Trial Grounds

Charlie Pridham Fiona Woolfenden Charlie Pridham and Fiona Woolfenden

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