The Mystery of the Clematis - Case Solved

For solving heinous crimes and mysteries, Agatha Christie had Miss Marple. EmmaT currently has Miss Maple on the case at Midsomer Berryfields. And recently I've had a most courteous Male to help me solve the mystery of my Clematis.

She's appeared here before and also over on my Open Garden. A completely beautiful floosie who makes everyone visiting my garden say 'Wow! What is that?' At which point, I have to shuffle my feet and answer 'Er, I bought it as a C. 'Crystal Fountain' from the garden centre, but it looks nothing like it. So, actually I've no idea!' Nevertheless, I do love her.

In my previous posts, two people were kind enough (Fat Rascal and Niels) to suggest what my Clematis could be: C. 'Blue Light'. I could see where they were coming from, but there were some differences, particularly in the way the flower looked in bud, that made me unsure. Besides, the lineage was different (C. 'Mrs Cholmondeley') and the Clematis I'd bought was a Raymond Evison Signature plant i.e. the best Clematis you can get. His website doesn't have C. 'Blue Light' listed, which seemed to fit with my notion that this wasn't the solution to my mystery. Whilst looking through the rest of the catalogue, I noticed that my garden's version of C. 'Josephine' was quite different to the one shown, So I now had not one, but two mystery Clematis!

There I left it - mentally making a note to send an email to Guernsey sometime, but I never got round to it. Then 2 weeks ago I went to the RHS Inner Temple show and who should be exhibiting there but Raymond Evison. I finally plucked up the courage to approach the stand in the afternoon once most of the crowds had gone. The cheerful lady there soon realised she couldn't answer my query and beckoned forward a dapper looking gentleman to help her. I suddenly realised I was talking to the great man himself. I explained my mystery and he confirmed that it couldn't be C. 'Blue Light'. 'You've got yourself a "sport" (i.e. plant mutation)' was his conclusion. I then explained about C. 'Josephine'. 'Ah, she regularly produces sports, that's how we got C. 'Empress'!'

Thanks to a charming gentleman the case is solved. I have two completely new Clematis in my garden, both climbing up the same obelisk. How exciting - do you think I'm allowed to name them?

Update: The Constant Gardener wrote a great article for the BBC Gardening pages about how C. 'Josephine' was discovered and named. She also reveals C. 'Crystal Fountain' was going to be called something else, but it got blocked by a rather famous company. It seems that naming a plant can be rather tricky - though I do like the sound of Clematis 'VP' as suggested by Karen!

Update May 2010: My mystery Clematis was launched as C. 'Diamantina' by Raymond Evison at this year's Chelsea Flower Show. She might not be Clematis 'VP', but I still love her to bits :)


  1. Lucky You! She is a beauty and I thought of Josephine, but thought, no, you will have seen that in the catalogues. Go ahead and name it, what fun to have a totally unique Clematis that you named!


    ps, I couldn't get the link to C.Empress to work

  2. Amazing - I think Clematis "V.P." has a certain ring to it :)

  3. I love a mystery but I love a mystery solved even better! :-)

  4. That's amazing - having two of them. Have fun with the new names :-)

  5. It's a wonderful thing to have a plant named after you-think of the fabulous company you will be in.Go for it.

  6. I love a good mystery, especially when it has a definition solution at the end! I agree with Artistsgarden that "Clematis V.P." is a great name. Now if I could only figure out what my clematis is:)

  7. How exciting - you could call it Clematis Niels Rascal in honour of the two people who were 'close but no cigar'.

  8. did you know 'Josephine' was herself an accidentally-discovered sport? I was interviewing Raymond a few years ago for an article (lovely man) ahd he told me the story. Josephine is the lady who discovered this clematis and tried very hard to kill it off - hate to blow my own trumpet, but you can read the story I wrote about it here:

  9. Hi everyone - thanks for all your comments. I felt they were worthy of an update in the post itself rather than a reply here :)

  10. Between us VP ... I would call that clematis "VP" !!! LOL

  11. I was just noticing that most of my Clematis are from Raymond Evison. Imagine how jealous I am that you got to meet & talk with him! Is there something in the air of your garden that is conducive to sporting or are you just lucky? So when can I expect to see Clematis 'VP' in my local nursery?

  12. Joy - it would be good wouldn't it?

    MMD - He is charming and so generous too. His Clematis are the best, so it's good to hear they've travelled across the pond. As for Clematis 'VP', who knows...


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