Clematis in bud

I should have been at Press Day at Chelsea Flower Show today, but instead I'm thinking about it from the comfort of my own home. It's rather nice that a little bit of Chelsea has come to me instead, in the form of the pictured clematis, 'Olympia', which was due to be launched at the show today. I'd planned to reveal it in its full glory, but instead I've had a little insight into the kind of angst the growers and garden designers go through in their preparations.

It arrived a couple of weeks ago from 'the Lovely Mr Evison' (as I call him), packed with love and full of health, vigour and bud. And it's remained that way ever since, despite my finding it a special pot on the patio. I think last week's cooler weather held it in check, and - like many of the exhibitors this has happened to - I expect it to finally reveal its blooms during Chelsea week after the judges have passed on by.

I'll post an update when it does, in the meantime we'll have to make do with the photo on the label. My thanks to Raymond Evison and The Garden Media Guild for giving me an opportunity to have a plant before its launch.

Clematis 'Dorothy Walton' and Clematis 'Diamantina'

Clematis and alliums
Regular readers may recall this isn't the first preview clematis I've had. For some years everyone admired the clematis on the right of the picture above and asked what it was. I didn't know because it was nothing like the 'Crystal Fountain' on the label. I even asked Raymond Evison about it when I first met him at the RHS Inner Temple show. I was excited to find I had a sport in my garden and even nursed a secret dream it might be named Clematis 'VP' as suggested by one of my commenters, only for it to be launched at Chelsea a couple of years later as Clematis 'Diamantina'.

It usually comes into flower whilst I'm at the show and welcomes me home. This year it's bloomed a couple of weeks earlier and is in full glory for my Chelsea at Home.

RHS Virtual Chelsea logo

You can have your own Chelsea at Home this year. The BBC has retrospective coverage all this week in the afternoon and evening, plus the RHS have a full programme of events in their Virtual Chelsea. It's members day today and I hope you're able to join me there, where the Lovely Mr Evison is going to show us around his nursery on Guernsey later.

Update 20/5: I loved seeing the nursery on Monday and I hope you did too. I've had a lovely email from Raymond Evison this morning, where he says:

Yes, it is a challenge getting over 2,000 clematis into flower all looking perfect for the Show each year, even after the years I have been doing this it’s still a challenge!!!!
C.'Olympia' is rather slower to come into flower than most of the others and our plants are just about perfect now, so I was running late too!!!!!
But you will find that it will flower and immediately put on new  growth and flower again in a few weeks time .
NB I've seen two GMG members post photos of perfect flowers of their clematis via social media this week, so the lack of flowers is down to my gardening prowess, not the plants themselves.

Update 21/5: She's now in flower and looking gorgeous.

Clematis 'Olympia' in flower

I'll pop back later in the week with some of my personal favourite memories of Chelsea. 

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Raymond Evison gave a talk at my local garden centre and my post about that wonderful evening is stuffed with his expert tips on clematis growing and care. My new clematis is one of his specially bred to grow in a pot, growing to around 4 feet in height and full of bloom from top to bottom. I'm going to treat mine to a lovely new obelisk to grow up, once my local garden centre reopens.

Since writing this I've pondered whether my new clematis is exhibiting signs of sleep, creep, leap as has happened previously here at VP Gardens.


  1. Good to see something you usually miss.

    1. I really enjoyed the BBC programme last night - bought back lots of happy memories :)

  2. The one on the right seems interesting and unusual. Beautiful colour, the one on the left. Enjoy your virtual Chelsea. Soon we will be eating strawberries while solemnly turning our heads from time to time and pretending we are watching tennis.

    1. You've conjured up a wonderful image for me there Lucy! We're currently enjoying strawberries from the garden. We had none last year because the pigeons, squirrels and slugs got the lot. I reckon the difference this year is the presence of cats.


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