Clematis × diversifolia 'Heather Herschell'

Clematis of the Month for June 2016

C. × diversifolia 'Heather Herschell'©Mia Broder

C. × diversifolia 'Heather Herschell' is another easy to grow clematis from the renown breeder Barry Fretwell of the United Kingdom. Mr. Fretwell has introduced such fabulous clematis as C. 'Princess Diana' and C. 'Arabella'. He has made such significant contributions to the world of clematis that he was given the Golden Clematis Award from the International Clematis Society in 2015.

C. × diversifolia 'Heather Herschell' was introduced in 1999. It has been cultivated by gardeners around the world and is highly rated as an easy to grow and dependable clematis. It was recently added to the International Clematis Society's Recommended Clematis list. It even made the cut from thousands of clematis cultivars to be included in one of the latest books on clematis, The Plant Lover's Guide to Clematis by Linda Beutler. Linda chose 196 clematis for the garden. In her poetic style she describes C. × diversifolia 'Heather Herschell' as "whimsical and free-flowering, producing lovely pink blossoms widened at the sepal tips and twisting like paddles in the air." It is usually soft pink in my garden which is in a very hot and humid climate, probably a bit washed out by the sun. Charles Chesshire has a luscious photo of a very deep rich pink C. × diversifolia 'Heather Herschell' in his book Clematis: Inspiration, Selection and Practical Guidance. The flowers have four sepals which recurve as they age to give the pagoda illusion. Each of the sepals is ribbed and the edges have slight notches.

This small flowered nodding hybrid typically blooms early to late summer, although in my garden with the warmer temperatures and a longer growing season, it starts blooming in May. C. × diversifolia 'Heather Herschell' is in pruning group 3 which means it can be hard pruned when dormant in late winter. A second pruning to half its height can be done after the first flush of blossoms which will encourage a second flush of blooms.

C. × diversifolia 'Heather Herschell' in a conifer©Mia BroderGardeners have their own favorite ways to grow this small non clinging clematis. My first choice is to grow it in a perennial bed. The soft pink pagoda shaped flowers gracefully adorn the top of the soft feather foliage of Amsonia hubrichtii. I also have C. × diversifolia 'Heather Herschell' growing up through a small hemlock, 'Gentsch White'. This small conifer provides an excellent support for all six feet of the lax vine with the pendulous flowers peaking through the variegated needles. Most often mentioned in the literature is combining C. × diversifolia 'Heather Herschell' with Hydrangeas and large shrub roses.

Genetically C. × diversifolia 'Heather Herschell' is an interspecific cross of an integrifolia and viticella type clematis. Both of these species do well in hot weather. There is much discussion about the language of classification and whether it should be in the integrifolia group or perhaps the viticella group. Whatever group is appropriate, be assured that C. × diversifolia 'Heather Herschell' will perform well in your garden.

[Editor's note: In his Clematis of the Month for September 2005, Mike Brown wrote about C. 'Lord Herschell'. Towards the end he talked of the Herschell family and the three family members who have all had clematis named after them. Click on the link above to learn more.]

Lyndy Broder Lyndy Broder

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