Clematis 'Beauty of Worcester'
Clematis 'Beauty of Worcester' is a venerable and beautiful clematis that was introduced in the UK by Richard Smith & Co. in 1890. In 1984, C. 'Beauty of Worcester' was given an Award for Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society. The parents are said to be C. 'Purpurea Elegans' and C. 'Countess of Lovelace'. I've grown this clematis for about 15 years on a yellow-leaved honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida 'Baggesen's Gold'). The 5-6 inch dark blue-violet double and semi-double blooms contrast wonderfully with the yellow leaves, while the creamy stamens are emphasized by them. In late summer and early autumn, the blooms tend to be single, a bit smaller, and often a lighter blue-violet with a hint of pink. In the doubles the outer ring of the blossoms consists of six dark blue/violet sepals with some reddish overtones that have rounded edges and pointed tips. There can be as many as six or seven additional slightly smaller layers in the same shape and a bit lighter in color, making for very double blooms that emerge from huge buds.
Blooms not yet fully open
A later semi-double flower, fully open, with a lighter color than earlier blooms
Leaves near the flower showing the blue-purple sepal color mixed with green
The reverse of the sepals sport a white bar. When visible amongst the many sepals, stamens have a creamy appearance with white filaments and yellow anthers. Leaves are simple and ternate and sometimes in the early blooms show a mix of the purple-blue color of the sepals with green. The vines grow variably, between 5 – 9' feet. According to Toomey and Leeds, (The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Clematis) some clones are free flowering while others are a bit shyer. Sadly, I have one of the shy-to-bloom clones, but the blossoms I get are so beautiful that I don't mind. C. 'Beauty of Worcester' is a candidate for growing in a container as well as in the ground. Either way, it requires sun or part sun to thrive and, as noted above, looks especially good when backed by yellow or gold foliage. Pruning this clematis only lightly in the spring encourages double flowers. After the clematis has finished its spring flush of blooms, the plant will benefit from being cut back by a third or a half and receiving a good watering and feeding—after which the plant is more likely to rebloom in late summer and early fall. My plant blooms late for an early large-flowered clematis (June and July), so I have never cut it back in summer. As a result, I have not had late blooms until last year, when in late September, I was thrilled to see a single bloom about nine feet up on an arbor. Maybe I will give the plant a little trim this summer after all.
A trio of double blooms in varying stages of opening
Double blooms fully open with sun-faded sepals
C. 'Beauty of Worcester' has several progeny, including a few well-known clematis:
- C. 'Kiri Te Kanawa' (raised in 1986 by Barry Fretwell – C. 'Beauty of Worcester' × C. 'Chalcedony')
- C. 'Lady Betty Balfour' (raised in 1910 by G. Jackman & Son – C. 'Gipsy Queen' × C. 'Beauty of Worcester')
- C. 'Lady Northcliffe' (raised in 1906 by G. Jackman & Son – C. 'Beauty of Worcester' × C. 'Otto Fröbel')
- C. 'Vyvyan Pennell' (raised in 1954 by Walter Pennell – possibly C. 'Daniel Deronda' × C. Beauty of Worcester')