Clematis 'Advent Bells'

Clematis of the Month for December 2014

C. 'Advent Bells'©Roy Nunn

In 2004 I had the idea of crossing two related species, although their distribution was continents apart. C. cirrhosa of the Mediterranean Regions and C. napaulensis of Eastern Asia seemed as it might be a possibility, so I set about cross pollination with both C. cirrhosa 'Freckles' and C. napaulensis being tried as the mother plant, but only C. napaulensis produced seed, which were ready for sowing in late spring of 2005.
C. napaulensis©Roy Nunn C. cirrhosa 'Freckles'©Roy Nunn

C. napaulensis

C. cirrhosa 'Freckles'

Germination was really quick with a good number of the seedlings appearing within a month. Potting on of seedlings was almost continuous as the plants grew really rapidly, without the usual slowing of growth or dormancy that one normally gets from its parents, by spring of 2006 the plants had been pruned back and were in 4 litre long tom pots.

The first flower appeared on the first days of Advent in 2006 (first week of December) on one of the potted on seedlings. First impressions were not very favourable as is shown in the image below.

First year flower of C. 'Advent Bells'©Roy Nunn

It was quickly noticed that the plants were producing a massive root structure to fill even a 4 litre pot, so various positions were found in the garden, no areas of full sun were available, which later proved to be a blessing as the plant seems to flower best if given some shade.

The plant that first produced the uninspiring flower later proved to be the one that I kept (Editor's note: see photo at head of page) as, although the flower is similar to C. cirrhosa 'Freckles', it is much more vigorous, fully evergreen and has four flowers per node as opposed to the usual two with Freckles.

I include the description of the plant as it appears in The International Clematis Register and Checklist, but with one alteration, from Semi-evergreen to Evergreen, as plants in the garden have remained full in leaf all year round.
C. 'Advent Bells'©Roy Nunn C. 'Advent Bells'©Roy Nunn

Being a Group One clematis I would suggest that you prune this plant when forsythia is in flower - usually late April in Cambridge. Pruning usually results in metres of extra growth and plenty of flowers for next year.

Hardiness seems to be better than both its parents and it has coped with periods down to -10 degrees Celsius and the occasional night down to -18 deg. C.

It proves interesting to see the plant in full flower with snow.

C. 'Advent Bells'©Roy Nunn

Description from The International Clematis Register and Checklist (4th Supplement).

'Advent Bells' Cirrhosa Group

Parentage: napaulensis (s) × cirrhosa var. purpurascens 'Freckles'
R: R.W. Nunn (2009), G: R.W. Nunn (2009),
N: R.W. Nunn (2009),
REG: R.W. Nunn (2010)
Fls broadly bell-shaped, 3.5-4.5 cm across, nodding or drooping, borne in cymes of 2-4 fls. Sepals 4, outside pinkish cream with faint stippling, inside cream with irregular red markings (either as streaking along veins or as stippling), 3.5 × 1.6 cm, touching, long-pointed with tips slightly recurved. Filaments cream or green, with pink stippling; anthers reddish pink; styles green.
Evergreen climber with stems to 5 m, pale brown or green when young, maturing to dark red or purple, prominently 6-ribbed. Lvs simple, in clusters of up to 8 per node, usually with entire margins but occasionally with irregular teeth or lobes, especially towards the base.
FL: Nov-Jan on previous season's growth.

Nomenclatural Standard: flowering herbarium specimen submitted by Wim Snoeijer on the registrant's behalf to Leiden Herbarium
Published refs: Clem. Int. 2010: 155 & 159 - illustrated but not named (so not formally established); The Clematis 2011: 175
Images: Clem. Int. 2010: 159; The Clematis 2011: 175
Flowers were first seen at Advent (in Western Christian churches, the fourth Sunday before 25 December: between 27 November and 3 December).

C. 'Advent Bells'©Roy Nunn

C. 'Advent Bells'©Roy Nunn

Copyright Nov 2014 © Roy W Nunn, Cambridge, England.

Roy Nunn Roy Nunn

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