Seeing C. 'Jouiniana' flowering in a garden and recalling how its name often appears in lists -- as C. jouiniana -- most gardeners would probably assume it is a species clematis, like C. vitalba or C. davidiana. In fact it is a hybrid between those two species, resembling C. vitalba in its vigor and relatively dense texture, and C. davidiana in its non-clinging habit and its clusters of small hyacinth like flowers.
For nearly a hundred years since its introduction in France it has kept its place in nursery lists because of its excellence as a groundcover. It will accept an upright posture if tied onto supports, and has occasionally been seen to take off and climb into a host plant for reasons best known to itself, but ordinarily it forms a sizable base and sends out low-lying stems, which may extend anywhere from 6' to 20' (2 to 6 metres) depending on the site and the climate.
Every year in late summer or early autumn 'Jouiniana' crowns its abundant foliage for several weeks with tight clusters of off-white to pale lilac-blue blossoms. 'Praecox,' which was bred from 'Jouiniana,' is the form pictured here. (Its companion is the lavender-pink C. 'Aljonushka', one of the interesting tall hybrids of C. integrifolia that have been arriving in recent years from Russia and Japan.) 'Praecox' differs in two respects that may be important for garden design -- its blooming season is earlier by three to four weeks, and the flowers tend to be of a stronger blue, especially on their reverse side. In both forms the stamens are a prominent feature, first as a creamy eye and then splaying out as they lose their pollen. To some nostrils the flowers are scented.
Both forms are of course Group C; they can be deep-pruned any time after bloom is spent in the autumn.
A few other good clematis have been bred from 'Jouiniana,' including an American cultivar known as 'Mrs. Robert Brydon,' which has strong, arching stems, coarse light-green leaves, and fragrant blue-and-white flowers in late summer.
Editors Note:- Since the above was written there has been much debate on the parentage of C. 'Mrs. Robert Brydon'. Current (October 2000) thinking suggests not that as described above but rather C. tubulosa x C. virginiana. For a fuller explanation, please see C. 'Mrs. Robert Brydon', the Clematis of the Month for October 2000.
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