Feminine, versatile, and durable: That's Clematis 'Pinky'. We know precious little detail about this large-flowered hybrid except that was raised by Tsuneo Ishiguro, and first mentioned in the I.Cl.S. Journal in 2000. It is described as having tepals with a white self-color decorated with a pink-purple bar, but I'd say the bar is usually cerise-red, heavier in coverage than that of C. 'Andromeda', and the bar color is prone to bleeding into the white in warm weather, turning the self-color to pale pink more often than not. The flower size is large but not gigantic, at more or less 20 cm diameter (8 inches). The tepals are quite pointed, with dark anthers and connectives, gray pollen, and pale cream to white filaments. The main display is from mid-April through late May, and rebloom is easily stimulated by deadheading and a dose of rose and flower food. With its height varying from 1.25 to 2 meters (4 to 6 feet), the vine stays light and petite. As an aside, C. 'Pinky' is now widely available to the cut flower trade, but those familiar with it as a garden plant will think the greenhouse grown version sadly diminutive in diameter.
C. 'Pinky' in the cut flower trade
At the Rogerson Clematis Garden, we have three specimens of C. 'Pinky', all in the Beech Tree's Garden beds, but not particularly near each other. One is combined with Hypericum × inodorum 'Summergold' with a random chartreuse and yellow splashed variegation and typical yellow flowers. This is a particularly cheerful and springy combination, and this 'Pinky' is the earliest to flower. C. 'Pinky' number two is planted on a split rail fence in between two mighty clematis, C. 'Picton's Variety' and C. 'Margaret Jones'. There is a 2.5-meter span between the two larger clematis (each planted at a post), with C. 'Pinky' planted in between. Were you to remove all of the clematis, you would see that a roll of metal fencing cloth lines the fence, giving all the vines plenty of support. C. 'Pinky' has no root competition, and gets pruned to no less than 75 cm whenever the more vigorous clematis are pruned, in mid-June. 'Pinky' recovers quickly to rebloom in August. C. 'Pinky' the third grows in much the same situation as number two (on a split rail fence between two C. montana forms), except that its section of fence is right under the northeast side of the copper beech, so once the venerable tree leafs out, number three is in fairly dense shade. Nonetheless, its first flowering coincides with its fellows; it just doesn't rebloom as well. It also gets less water than the others. This specimen is a testimony to the durability this hybrid can show once established.
It has been suggested that C. 'Pinky' would do well in containers, and while that might be true, be prepared to give a fair bit of tip pinching to keep it bushy enough to stay appealing. In the ground it shows a tendency towards bare legs, but I grant you this may be entirely due to having it's stems shaded by the foliage of its companions. In a large container with a small-statured leafy Hydrangea such as 'Pia', one wouldn't notice the poorly furnished stems of C. 'Pinky', and what a glowing combination of shades of pink that would be! To sum up, C. 'Pinky' has a pleasingly feminine color scheme, tolerates a variety of light exposures, and once established, adapts to its surroundings and changing water availability with stalwart fortitude and unfaltering commitment.
C. 'Pinky' in the Rogerson Clematis Garden
C. 'Pinky' in the Rogerson Clematis Garden in 2015
C. 'Pinky' in the Rogerson Clematis Garden in 2019
C. 'Pinky' in Bed 3, the Rogerson Clematis Garden in 2020
- Plant Lover's Guide to Clematis
- The International Register and Checklist of Clematis 2002