The first time that I remember seeing Clematis WISLEY was at the Royal Horticultural Society's Essex garden at Hyde Hall in 2004 when we visited the gardens as part of the Society's conference that year. There was a display of all four of the clematis introduced by Raymond Evison and Poulson Roses as part of the Royal Horticultural Society Bicentenary Plant Collection and launched at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show in 2004 (see Clematis International 2004, page 125). At the time, I thought that it was a nice clematis but not that special and moved on!
The next time I came across Clematis WISLEY was during the RHS Viticella Trial at the RHS Wisley Garden. From what I remember it was a late addition to the trial, a year younger than almost all the other clematis in the trial. It did not appear to me at that time to be that remarkable. I wrote an article in the Society's Journal, Clematis International 2011, regarding the Viticella Trial and I did not mention it at all.
However, one year makes a lot of difference and after our visit to Wisley in 2012, I described it as 'stunning' (see picture on right). Unfortunately this picture is rather contrasty as it was a very sunny day, but I hope you can understand my enthusiasm. Indeed the RHS in 2012 recognized the plant's worth by awarding it an Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Raymond Evison describes C. 'Evipo001'(N)WISLEY as "a modern day Jackmanii type with some viticella blood in its veins, receiving the Wisley name because of Wisley's proximity to Woking where Clematis 'Jackmanii' was raised way back in 1858. It has bluish flowers of the typical Jackmanii look but with the vigour and free flowering habit of a viticella cultivar. The four, sometimes five or six, sepals have crinkled edges and are about 10 - 13 cm in diameter. It is the long, free-flowering habit of this cultivar that makes it stand out from other clematis, flowering almost from June to September. It is an ideal plant to grow with wall trained, free standing or climbing roses, it is outstanding for growing with yellow flowered plants or plants with variegated foliage."
Seeing it do so well at Wisley I bought one myself in 2012 and I now grow it in my garden. This year it is fantastic (see left)! It does appear to take a couple of years to establish but the wait is well worth it as it is now one of the top 5 or 6 performers in my garden this year. I am growing it with C. 'Evipo031'(N)BONANZA, another of Raymond Evison's hard prune clematis which flowers at the same time as C. WISLEY and as C. BONANZA appears to be a shorter plant I placed it to cover the potentially 'bare legs' of C. WISLEY. I'm now not sure that I needed to do this as the flowers cover most of the plant but together they cover a trellis panel. To the left in the photo of the plant in my garden you can see a flower from C. 'Walenburg', (which also obtained an AGM in 2012 in the RHS Viticella Trial) planted nearby which has strayed into the picture. C. WISLEY also looks very good with Rosa 'Compassion', as does any blue clematis that has a bit of purple in it!
Now C. WISLEY is in the Late Large Flowering Clematis Trial at RHS Wisley. We visited RHS Wisley in June this year (2015) and I approached the plant with trepidation, knowing that I intended to feature it here and wondering how it was faring. I was pleased to see that the plant had a large number of flowers and an even larger number of buds, as you can see in the photo to the right. Although it has a large number of flowers in this photo it looks as if it will be an absolute mass of flowers in another few weeks.
It is interesting how different supports can make an impact. This year's plant supports are much taller than in previous years so C. WISLEY has gone straight up rather than sideways as in the picture taken in the Viticella Trial in 2012.
I would recommend this clematis to anyone wanting a vigorous blue/purple clematis with larger flowers than a typical viticella that does not appear to get mildew. I have found that clematis planted at RHS Wisley do not suffer from mildew there as the site is very windy on the side of a hill, but when I grow them in my small enclosed suburban garden they often do suffer from mildew. So far C. WISLEY has not succumbed.
If you are able to get to the RHS Wisley before the end of August 2015 and see the Late Large Flowering Clematis Trial I would recommend that you do so. It is well worth the visit for any clematis lover!
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