Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today


NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.


NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.


New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.


Plant Profiles

Today in the Garden of a Lifetime: 'China Purple' Clematis

Clematis heracleifolia China Purple Yucca filamentosa Color Guard stem tip from side 071715 B 640 


This shrubby plant combines features of two of my favorite plants: The non-vining Clematis, 'Mrs. Robert Brydon', and Heracleum, otherwise known as cow parsnip. The flowers and habit are similar to those of the clematis, the leaves echo those of the cow parsnip.


Meet Clematis heracleifolia 'China Purple', which betters both of its namesakes: The leaves and stems don't cause the cow parsnip's contact dermatitis, and are dramatically darker green, too. Plus, the flowers are vivid violet, not the pale-blue-and-white (charming to some, too bland and twee for others) of the clematis. 


Clematis heracleifolia China Purple Yucca filamentosa Color Guard finger flower 071715 640


As they open more fully, the flowers reveal sumptuous details best enjoyed with a bit of magnification. With the petals reflexed, there's plenty of room for the ring of stamens to flaunt themselves. The pale yellow pollen coating the stamens' upper half is swell in itself, but right below is a band of blue-violet.


Clematis heracleifolia China Purple lower flower fully opened 071715 640


And at the bottom, the stamens are a chilly white that echoes the pale flecks of the perimeter ruffles of the petals.


Clematis heracleifolia China Purple lower flower fully opened 071715 closer 640


Even the stems, buds, and leaves of 'China Purple' get into the violet theme: They, too, are notably darker than those of 'Mrs. Robert Brydon', let alone the titanic jagged-edged foliage of Heracleum mantegazzianum or the even-larger species I grow, H. sosnowskyi.



Here's how to grow Clematis heracleifolia 'Mrs. Robert Brydon'. It is often listed as Clematis x jouiniana 'Mrs. Robert Brydon'; its confusing nomenclature is best accepted as part of its charm. 'China Purple' is handled the same as The Mrs., but is a bit less hardy—to Zone 5, not Zone 4. Also, 'Mrs. Robert Brydon' can grow much broader and lower, to six or even eight feet across and only a foot or two high when used as a groundcover. 'China Purple' is more contained and shrubby, growing just two to three feet high and wide. It originated from seed collected in China in 1980.

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