Clematis 'Tsunami Child'

Clematis of the Month for April 2018

described by Linda Beutler

C. 'Tsunami Child'©Linda Beutler

C. 'Tsunami Child' made a dramatic debut at the Ireland 2006, Dublin, International Clematis Society Conference. It's introducer, Dr. Mary Toomey, had arrayed this new plant at the front of the room on our first evening and proceeded to tell its story. According to Dr. Mary, 'Tsunami Child' arose as a chance seedling in her small garden, and it intrigued her. She convinced a neighbor, Miss McLoughlin, to provide a home for it, where Mary observed it for many years.

In 2004 a horrific tsunami struck Dr. Mary's birth country, Sri Lanka (Ceylon). She began assisting an orphanage there for the many children who lost parents due to the wild wave. Decades after first deciding to trial the now quite grand seedling, Dr. Mary was inspired to name it 'Tsunami Child', to commemorate and honor the children she helped.

[Would that all clematis were so amply trialed. One cannot say this plant was rushed to market—LB]

'Tsunami Child' is clearly a Clematis montana relation, but the leaves of the plant lead me to guess it is most closely allied with Clematis chrysocoma 'Rosea' (of hort.). The picture here of the buds and leaves explains my surmise. At the Rogerson Clematis Garden, there are two chief charms to the plant that have made it popular on the sale bench. It flowers early, bursting on the scene in late March or early April, consistently the first of its type every year. And secondly, although opening a good clear bubblegum pink, the color pales through cotton-candy to a soft cream before the tepals fall. Hence, a well-established plant in full bloom will be a tapestry of tints of pink as its season progresses.

The vital statistics of this plant are what one might expect. It can leap to 7m, but can also be managed easily on a 1.5m wide by 3.5m tall flat-panel trellis by removing errant or excessive growth immediately after flowering. Its dependable earliness might suggest it is hardier than others of its near relations, but that is speculation on my part.

To bring the story of this clematis full circle, Murray Rosen gave a plant of 'Tsunami Child' to the Rogerson Clematis Garden at the time Chalk Hill Clematis retired its mail-order sales program. Bob Gutmann, the now retired nurseryman who provided housing for Brewster's clematis for so many years, kindly custom propagates the montana group and winter blooming clematis on behalf of the Rogerson Clematis Garden. Hence, we regularly have 'Tsunami Child' for sale.

One early summer morning in 2016 volunteer Rick Meigs was alone in the Clematis Garden working on a pet project, when who should he see wandering the garden but Dr. Mary! Because of her early and unstinting support of the establishment of the garden, he knew exactly who she was and swooped in to greet her. As they toured paths—with Annette Williams, former FRCC board member and Dr. Mary's area guide—they spoke of 'Tsunami Child'. Rick quickly retrieved one from the sales area, and Dr. Mary presented it to Annette's daughter for her new garden. Rick reported that Dr. Mary was delighted to see her 'Tsunami Child' thriving so well half a world away from her lane in Dublin.

Linda Beutler Linda Beutler

Return to top of page

Return to Homepage

@ K.Woolfenden