The Clematis Montana

People are continually reminding me how dreadful I am with Clematis and how they always die – sometimes before I even get them to the check-out. Well, this particular clematis is a bit different. When we moved from the previous garden I took several clematis with me, one of them was planted in the compost heap and trained into the large ornamental cherry at the corner of the garden. I knew it was a Montana (mile-a-minute) group type but I had to go hunting through the old garden Plant List on this site to find out the exact variety.

After some sleuthing, it turns out that it is indeed a Clematis Montana “Wilsonii”, a lovely white flowered Montana that is actually scented – unusual for a clematis. I brought it with us when we moved and I must have conveniently ignored the fact that it was a Montana when I planted it against the stout ornamental blossom tree in the front border. Understandably, it didn’t flower last year when it was transplanted, but this year it erupted into flower all along it’s length, which incidentally went from knee-height to “way overhead” in the space of a few months.

Clematis Montana Wilsonii in Flower

This is actually the very first time this clematis has flowered since it was planted three years ago. It’s been a long wait but when you see these flowers dangling about the tree then it is worth it.

I’m not very well organised with labelling plants and recording what I planted where so it was with some surprise that I recognised the Clematis group type when it flowered and then wondered why on earth I would plant it where it is now. I must have had visions of this clematis filling the canopy of the tree with starry flowers, cascading out of the branches and billowing in the wind. The only trouble is that it’s going to cascade out of the branches alright and it’s going to billow on the pavement and across to the other side of the road! I shall have to be careful to keep tabs on this vigorous clematis lest it take over the entire border. Mind you, that might have been the look I was going for all this time. Clematis Montana “Wilsonii” is one of more diminutive Montanas that “only” grow to 9 or 10 metres tall. The tree is currently three metres high and two wide. At least it gets good reviews in online shopping sites.

The really observant among you might notice two types of clematis leaves in the photo above; one belongs to the Montana and there is also a second clematis – thankfully much smaller – called “Star of India” that will make an appearance with luxuriously purple flowers after the white has gone in the summer.

Just for some context and more drooling, a short hop away to a family member’s garden reveals what a more mature Clematis Montana can do and also happens to be indicative of the ultimate size our little one might aspire to:

Clematis Montana in Flower

We’ll have to see just how the roses, clematis, tree and of course, the iconic white picket fence come together in the coming years. Perhaps I am compensating for all that plain gravel in the front by ensuring the borders (and beyond) are filled as much as possible.

11 Comments


  1. Gorgeous!! Your other clematis need a master class on how to thrive from this beauty. 🙂 Love it, love it, love it!

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    1. Hello Tammy, they certainly do! While others mumble and fuss, wilt, fail to flower and generally die, this one has reached for the stars – well, at least the top of the tree and it flowered so beautifully this year, only one year after being moved, when it was only a foot high. I’ve noticed that Clematis I have in the ground do very well (usually), which those in pots suffer. Oh – Clematis “The President” is alive again and putting on new growth after it snapped almost at ground level due to high winds!

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  2. Ooops! but never mind. The tree will get a bit bigger too, and maybe they will always be the best of friends. It looks gorgeous, anyway. As you know, Bill MacKenzie is my favourite for fast growth, but it’s in the group that gets cut down every year, so I know it will make a show of about 6ft x 15ft every time. I just found that a clematis I moved because it was definitely not thriving has made a comeback. From a dead twig and a leaf (even though 3/4 years old) to a nice fresh stem with several healthy leaves on it. Have given it a couple of big sticks for now, but it will get it’s own wigwam if it continues to thrive. It’s Dr Ruppel and if it sticks around will do 10ft x 10ft …. but it’s only 5 inches presently. Mmm. forget wigwam, we are going to need a large arch, aren’t we?!!!!
    Don’t forget a picture when the other one blooms out front.

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    1. Hello Mrs Mac, I have Clematis Dr Ruppel in one of the front patio trugs and it definitely doesn’t grow to that height – being in a pot (even a large one) I guess restricts its growth a lot. I might set it free in the ground one day and replace it with something more appropriate. It does flower and they’re large, brightly coloured flowers, I really do like this particular clematis. I can see the flower buds of the second clematis in the tree. It should only be a few weeks before this second one is in full flower!

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  3. Well done, Sunil! Now the naysayers concerning your clematis proficiency can be silenced! I have just written an article for a national newspaper about clematis and it mentions new, smaller varieties. I have purchased two, Vancouver Starry Nights and Josephine, and hope they survive the poor soil on the mound out front. When the article is published, I’ll post a link in case you want to take a look. Cheers!

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    1. Hello Lynn, I’m not so sure about that; once a reputation is gained it always sticks and is hard hard to get rid of. There are many smaller varieties of clematis that have come out in the garden centres and catalogues, I’ve noticed and I’m looking forward to the link to read your article.

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    1. Hello Jean, a mature clematis allowed to run riot is spectacular in flower; I won’t be able to let mine grow so large, but it will be enough to turn the tree white with starry flowers each late spring.

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  4. Beautiful! I love the large white flowers. I’m sure you can keep it tamed. Better a plant too vigorous than a dead one.

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    1. Hello Jason, that’s what I’d say too, although if I do lose control of it then I may live to regret it!

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