Clematis 'Tartu'

Clematis of the Month for May 2020

described by Laura Watson

C. 'Tartu'©Laura Watson

C. 'Tartu' - just opening©Laura Watson

C. 'Tartu' - just opening

C. 'Ernest Markham'©Ken Woolfenden

C. 'Ernest Markham'

Clematis 'Tartu', like a chameleon, changes its look through the season. It brightens my garden in May and June with its large semi-double blossoms, its ruffled blue-violet sepals, each embellished with a hot-pink bar, and its creamy white anthers. As spring wans and summer waxes, the pink bar fades away, leaving just the lovely soft shades of blue-violet, sometimes with just a hint of the pink still coming through.

Even in late summer and fall, it continues to bloom reliably for me. If you live in a very cold climate and must cut all your clematis back hard or in a climate with hot spring weather, sadly you might never see the pink shades.

C. 'Tartu' is a seedling of C. 'Deviatyi Val', which in turn has C. 'Ernest Markham' as one of its parents. The influence of C. 'Ernest Markham' is clearly seen in the strong pink bar and the ruffled edges of the sepals. Named for a town in Estonia, C. 'Tartu' is an early large-flowered type that grows to 4 – 7 feet (1.5 – 2 meters).

The flowers are generally about six inches in diameter with five-to-eight sepals and, at least in my spring garden, usually display several smaller ruffled petals toward the center. It thrives in full sun, but will also tolerate part shade, especially in the hottest part of the summer. C. 'Tartu' seems to grow particularly well in a horizontal direction.

Uno Kivistik, the well-known Estonian clematis hybridizer, raised this charming clematis at Roogoja Farm in Estonia, which is the northern-most nursery to hybridize clematis. Uno's aim was to produce clematis of relatively low height and rich in blossoms on new wood. His clematis are excellent choices for northern climes, but fortunately can also be grown by those of us in more southerly locations.

Uno trialed hundreds of cultivars and registered 140 of them, including many that are very well-known —C. 'Aino', C. 'Ekstra', C. 'Entel', C. 'Huvi', C. 'Juuli', C. 'Mikelite', C. 'Minister', C. 'Piilu', C. 'Roko-Kolla', C. 'Romantika', C. 'Semu', C. 'Valga Daam', and C. 'Viola', to name just a few.

The Society visited the fabulous display gardens at the Kivistik's Roogoja Farm in 1998 and 2005. In 2013 the Society presented Uno's wife Aili with the Golden Clematis Award in honor of the many beautiful clematis she and her husband launched out into the world. Sadly, Uno Kivistik died in 1998, but Aili, their son Taavi, and other family members continue to carry on the clematis business at Roogoja Farm.

If you don't have C. 'Tartu', you should!
C. 'Tartu' - single flower©Laura Watson C. 'Tartu' - late June©Laura Watson C. 'Tartu' - late season©Laura Watson

C. 'Tartu' - single flower

C. 'Tartu' - late June

C. 'Tartu' - late season

Laura Watson Laura Watson

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