Clematis 'Mary Hazel' 2020005 see Editor's note below , is a Montana group seedling which flowered for the first time in May 2020. Like a number of other montana seedlings in my garden it has sown itself in a crack between the south facing house wall and path below. Unlike C. 'Veitch' 2006003 see Editor's note below , (winner of the Plant Heritage 'Threatened Plant of the Year 2020') which I believe to be the seed or pollen parent, it is a vigorous, multi-stemmed climber, currently reaching at least 10 metres (30ft) and scrambling up and along both south and east facing house walls. [Editor's note: In case you're wondering, the seven digit numbers following the names 'Mary Hazel' and 'Veitch' are the RHS reference for plants in a national collection. The first four digits refer to the year of acquisition. The following three digits are the accession number for this plant. So, for example, plant 2020005 was the fifth plant acquired in year 2020.] With over two hundred montana plants around the garden, the other parent is impossible to tell without DNA testing. The picture below shows the only remaining C. 'Veitch' flowers in May 2022, plus the almost identical colour and shape of both flowers and leaves of C. 'Mary Hazel' which are significantly larger. For some years squirrels used the C. 'Veitch' stems as a climbing frame to access the peanuts and sunflower hearts in the window feeders. Luckily Alan Postill, Master Propagator at Hilliers Arboretum for sixty years, kindly agreed to take material from the one remaining stem. From the poor cutting material, taken in 2020, Alan rooted more than a dozen little C. 'Veitch' plants which have been distributed to expert clematis growers around the country. On the east house wall, the combination of C. 'Mary Hazel' with Wisteria 'Caroline' is exquisite, the wisteria providing the perfect climbing frame and complimentary colour for the strong pink flowers.
Clematis 'Mary Hazel'
Mary is a young friend who lives about a mile from me. We met at choir some years ago and bonded immediately. Every week during lock down she walked to check I was okay, usually laden with supplies in her backpack, bought from our local post office which she passes en route. Always with the biggest smile on her face. A special lady. When this amazing montana seedling displayed its first flowers in 2020 I asked permission to name it for her. Mary's mother, Hazel, died the previous year hence the name C. 'Mary Hazel'.
Two little C. 'Veitch' flowers peeping through the larger C. 'Mary Hazel' on the south facing wall
C. 'Mary Hazel' growing through Wisteria 'Caroline' on the east facing wall
2023 is the third year C. 'Mary Hazel' has flowered. Despite the freezing, sodden and windy winter months, by 24th February there were sizable buds on the east facing wall. There were also seed heads which I had been unable to collect as they were so high up. It is one of only two montana group clematis to retain its seeds throughout the winter months, the other being C. 'Miss Christine', a gorgeous Sheila Chapman introduction in 2005.
Mary standing in front of the plant on 1st May 2021 - note the crack between the house wall and the path beneath where C. 'Mary Hazel' stems are coming from!
I plan to take cuttings of C. 'Mary Hazel' in early summer. Interested parties are welcome to come and see the plant, take their own cuttings from early June or collect / receive seeds late summer / autumn. It is a splendid addition to the Montana Group, growing strongly despite being exposed to the bitter east and south-east winds and regular south westerly gale force winds whipping up from the valley below. John Richards Nurseries Limited already have a number of well rooted cuttings, taken by John in late 2021. I hope they will soon be ready for sale.
C. 'Mary Hazel' buds, taken through my lounge window - 24th February 2023