Clematis 'Elegant Rhythm'

Clematis of the Month for February 2022

described by Linda Beutler

C. 'Elegant Rhythm'©Linda Beutler
C. 'Elegant Rhythm'

The year Joy Creek Nursery introduced C. 'Elegant Rhythm' (2016), they also brought out C. 'Pink Pinwheel' and two new−to−North America introductions from Masatake Udagawa from Japan, C. 'Spark' and C. 'Cat's Eye'. All are herbaceous perennial introductions, closely related to Clematis integrifolia. C. 'Elegant Rhythm' stands out from this crowd in being the only blue-purple form in a cantata of pink and for its fortissimo structure, far more sturdy and upright than the more recent C. 'Stand By Me' PP30,556 [Editor's note: this is the US Plant Patent number] (which, in comfy garden soil in the Pacific Northwest, becomes just as floppy as any other meter-tall selection or hybrid of C. integrifolia).

Luckily I was able to sit down with Maurice Horn, the clematis whisperer at Joy Creek Nursery (JCN), to hear the origin story of C. 'Elegant Rhythm'. Mikiyoshi Chikuma sent the nursery a box of C. integrifolia crosses from Kazushige Ozawa. This array included #1 and #2, which had been used as studs in previous crosses. Rather than make more hybrids, Maurice seeded out #1 and #2 to see what the range of color and form from them would be, perhaps to select for interesting traits in a future generation of crosses. The seedling that became C. 'Elegant Rhythm' needed no further embellishment.

The vivid purple-blue flowers are presented con animato, being rolled and twisted, with a decidedly marcato presentation throughout the plant, appearing in a layered structure of repeated rhythm throughout the growing season. Each flower has its own space, the whole never becoming lumpish or plodding. The height ranges from 60-90cm (2-3 feet), and a Bastille Day chop—if the plant looks tired—yields a forte coda to the remainder of the growing season.

When you speak to Maurice about this JCN introduction he lapses into musical terms and after growing it since 2016 at the Rogerson Clematis Garden, one understands why. The flowers are elegantly tailored, and their presentation on the plant follows a largo rhythm. With deadheading or a harder grooming in mid-to-late July and an accompanying midsummer fertilizer snack, this selection gives a truly maestoso performance from May throughout the summer.

C. 'Elegant Rhythm'©Linda Beutler
C. 'Elegant Rhythm'

C. 'Allanah' and C. 'Elegant Rhythm'©Linda Beutler
C. 'Allanah' and C. 'Elegant Rhythm'

Musical terms:

Linda Beutler Linda Beutler

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