Please note, this article was written just before the International Clematis Society Conference and visit to Japan in May 1997.
With our gathering in Tokyo for the Clematis Exposition just days ahead, it is only fitting to take as our Clematis of the Month the lovely 'Asao.' Those of us lucky enough to be attending the Annual Meeting are scheduled to visit its birthplace, the nursery of Kasushige Ozawa, where not only 'Asao' but 'Kakio' (often called 'Pink Champagne' in the West) and integrifolia 'Roguchi' and other good clematis have been and are being bred.
'Asao' is among the very earliest of the large-flowered hybrids in the Spring, usually putting on an abrupt rush of growth and blooming along with the famous near-yellows like 'Moonlight' and 'Gekkyuden,' which share with it a strong inheritance from Clematis patens. Often its flowers come semi double as well as single, and they can range in size from about 12 to 18 cm. What is less common is that this same mixture of single and semi double blossoms will usually occur in the repeat bloom. Though mainly pink, the new blossoms may be decidedly red at the margins, especially in a warm Spring, paling down toward the centre, where the whole colour scheme is dramatically altered by that striking golden-yellow eye.
'Asao' is adaptable enough to be used in many different ways in a garden, but being
relatively compact and easy to groom, it has perhaps attracted most notice as a container
plant. That being the case, it is well to know that in a favourable situation it can grow
to as much as nine feet. Depending of course upon one's growing conditions, it is likely
to repay moderately heavy pruning and shaping when the Spring bloom is past. Fortunately,
such heading-back does not inhibit double-flowering in the later bloom.
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