Clematis 'Kamila'

Clematis of the Month for May 2021

described by Linda Beutler

C. 'Kamila' showing single and double blooms©Linda Beutler

Clematis 'Kamila' showing single and double blooms

C. 'Kamila' showing single blooms only©Linda BeutlerThis dependable introduction from 1996, bred by Stefan Franczak of Poland, is yet another of the legion of clematis that produce splendid double flowers in the spring and handsome single flowers on subsequent rebloom. It is often the case that Franczak hybrids are named with some reference to Polish history, but just as often he honored family members and friends with clematis names. In this case we don't know to whom this Kamila refers.

Attribution aside, long acquaintance with this 'Kamila' reveals a durable plant, which is best pruned immediately after those first brilliant double flowers go over, giving the plant the rest of the growing season to recover. Any winter-killed growth is groomed in early spring, but do not take off any live growth at the same time, to maximize the chances of the best quality double flowers. Stated maximum height is 2.5 meters, but at the Rogerson Clematis Garden we've had it easily reach another meter beyond that, as our specimens festoon a Cryptomeria japonica 'Black Dragon', which offers an excellent dark green background for the violet flowers that fade to a pleasant lavender before the tepals fall.

Three specimens are planted around the C. j. 'Black Dragon', and it is likely high time we start playing with their pruning schedule, to see just how much more we can extend the period of double flowers, by perhaps getting one of the specimens to start in a little later. The eldest of the specimens, planted in 2011, is also the one offering the best fluffy double blooms every year, proof that C. 'Kamila' improves with age. Also, it has never been moved, and the case could be made that spring-double clematis profit from being allowed to settle in well. There are gardeners who make a habit of constantly transplanting their clematis in a manic search for the ultimate plant combination, and it seems this practice does the most disservice to the spring only doubles.

Let me end by reminding everyone that this hybrid should not be confused with the double-L cultivar, which also begins with a K, is described as blue, and is not reported to be double (C. 'Kamilla'). And neither of these was apparently named to reference Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, although I've seen a garden in Germany that had C. 'Kamila' growing in a bedframe with C. 'Prince Charles'. I'm going out on a limb here to say I believe Stefan Franczak would not have approved.

Linda Beutler Linda Beutler

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