No-one has done more to make growing beautiful Clematis easy than Guernsey Clematis and its driving force, Raymond Evison. He has championed the idea of patio-sized plants that will flower all summer and no longer require you to pass the “three-pruning types” test.
Visit any garden centre and you are likely to see the modern Raymond Evison varieties displayed in a dedicated sales area with its own branding. A check of the plant label will tell you that these plants need little more than good compost, regular food, a support structure and a “haircut” in spring. Unless specified otherwise, this simply entails cutting single-flowered cultivars down to 6” (15cm) and reducing all semi-doubles and doubles down by one-third.
This year sees Raymond aiming for his 30th RHS Chelsea Flower Show Gold Medal and launching three new varieties. The Chelsea exhibit will be a contemporary Guernsey seashore scene with three long, Clematis-covered waves above a beach where small boats will be filled with Clematis in flower and old-fashioned willow crab and lobster pots will rest as the fishermen left them. Visitors will be able to walk amongst the waves on two walkways, so they can get up-close and personal with these lovely plants.
The new varieties are:
Nubia - stunning saucer-like, deep-red flowers with a light purple centre are produced in quantity continuously throughout the season.
Tranquilité - named to honour the wonderful care that people receive at Les Bourgs Hospice in Guernsey, this plant is free-flowering, long-flowering and happy on a north-facing wall. The flowers are mauve-blue with a white bar down the petals and brick-red anthers in the centre. The edges of the petals are crimped and wavy.
Sarah Elizabeth - considered a break-through in the breeding of pink Clematis, the flowers are a delicate shade of candy-pink with white freckling and a deep cherry-red centre. Named after Sarah Groves, who died in 2013 in Kashmir and would have been 30 this year.
Last year at Chelsea, Raymond launched a beautiful, almost pure white Clematis called Kitty. Named for a young lady on Guernsey and sold in aid of the Anthony Nolan Trust, this is a fantastic low-growing plant for a container or winding through another plant such as a climbing rose, where the flowers can mingle together, or through an evergreen wall shrub like Garrya which carries its graceful tassels in winter, but is fairly plain in summer to give a second season of interest.
For more information, see www.raymondevisonclematis.com
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