Winter clematis, a good plant for walls facing North and East
A real winter beauty
Right now the medieval tower in our garden is being blasted with hail and sleet. I know that the clematis in full flower covering it won’t be damaged though, as it’s a winter variety bred for coping with wet and cold. Unlike the clematis, I am feeling a bit rain-weary and I’m glad to be indoors writing this!
Clematis urophylla ‘Winter Beauty’ is an evergreen climber that copes well on awkward, cold walls. Ours is on an east facing wall, and it’s wrapping quite happily around the corner to also face north. That ability to thrive when other plants fail is often what sets a winter plant apart from it’s softie summer cousins.
This particular clematis has a creamy white flower that wouldn’t look out of place as the skirt on a fairy or the hat on a woodland elf. It’s petals turn down and then out, revealing a dark stamen. The petals are thick - they look succulent which adds another layer of interest. Ours is well over 4 metres tall and very healthy, so although it’s not always thought of as a very easy plant to grow, I will always recommend it for a tricky cold wall or to scramble through a tree. The only care it gets is a prune in spring once it’s flowered and a good load of mulch on the base each winter.
I always wander around the garden to choose what plant to write about. We’ve had snowdrops for weeks, the crocuses and irises are on their way up and plenty of camellias are already blooming. This clematis caught my eye as as it deserves some attention. It’s usually providing background interest for a walloping great wisteria that covers the tower in blue by May. I’m very happy to see it and look forward to enjoying it right through February.
Winter has been mild and spring is coming early up here on Dartmoor. I hope the plants in your garden are showing signs of warmer, drier days to come!
Happy gardening, Nick.