Clematis 'Pauline'

Clematis of the Month for April 2022

described by Linda Beutler

C. 'Pauline'©Linda Beutler

C. 'Pauline'

C. 'Pauline' in 2018©Linda Beutler
C. 'Pauline' in 2018

Clematis 'Pauline' was introduced in 1966, by Washfield Nursery in Hawkhurst, Kent, in England. Had I known that when I visited the nursery over thirty years later, I would have been shopping for clematis rather than hellebores. Ah, those were the good old days, when a private US citizen could bring back twelve bare-rooted plants from foreign travels, as long as they were not on the proscribed list.

Since that near brush in 1998, I have come to know C. 'Pauline' through the specimens in the Rogerson Clematis Garden. It is generally reported to be a seedling of C. 'Frances Rivis', and given that parent's ability to rebloom, you will not be surprised when I add that our most established C. 'Pauline' had four waves of flowers in 2021, undaunted by the heat dome in late June and all of kinds of carrying on the previous winter.

The flower is the typical C. macropetala type double ballet skirt, with purple buds that surprise by opening to a pleasing mid-blue. The purple shading remains as veining on the outside sepals nearest the receptacle. The inner staminate sepals are a more pale blue. When in full bloom, and from a distance on a lightly breezy day, this two toned effect gives the display a more commanding presence than one usually finds in the blues of the subgenus Atragene.

Like most of the Atragenes (C. alpina, C. fauriei, C. koreana, C. macropetala et al, and their cultivars), C. 'Pauline' is exceptionally winter hardy and grows well in partial shade or full sun (assuming shaded roots). Free draining soil is also a must for this subgenus. Winter wet clay soils are not appreciated. Coarse gravel mulch around the crown and replenished annually prevents winter wet from pooling around the basal stems ("chicken grit" or coarse poultry gravel works well and is commonly available at any feed store).

C. 'Pauline' in 2020©Linda Beutler
C. 'Pauline' in 2020

C. 'Pauline' in 2020 showing the wire support©Linda Beutler
C. 'Pauline' in 2020 showing the wire support

The mature height can reach 3 meters, but our eldest plant has preferred to wind around a meter-tall half-round metal frame, or occasionally to loll over its neighbor, Chamaecyparus thyoides 'Heather Bun', an easily managed conifer providing afternoon shade to the roots of C. 'Pauline'. One supposes that if we stretched C. 'Pauline' out, it might just be 3 meters long. If any extensive pruning is needed, we do so after the first wave of flowers ends, usually mid-May. The easternmost neighbor of C. 'Pauline' is Geranium ×magnificum, which, similar to C. 'Pauline', is blue with purple veining, making a lovely mound of flowers in time to partner with the second wave of blooms for C. 'Pauline'.

Let me reiterate my point that C. 'Pauline' is a champion rebloomer. In 2021 the earliest bevy of blooms arrived in mid-April, and it flowered well three more times: in early June, late July, and for another two weeks in September. We do have a volunteer who enjoys the fiddly work of deadheading C. 'Pauline' and her nearest relations, and we fertilize at each wave of deadheading. C. 'Pauline' seems to appreciate the effort.

Linda Beutler Linda Beutler

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