Clematis 'Juuli'

Clematis of the Month for October 2016

described by Deborah Hardwick

C. 'Juuli'©Jean Sorenson/Pride of Place Plants

Trouble free ... easy to grow ... floriferous ... long bloom span ... reblooms well ... pretty flower ... charming plant. In my garden, C. 'Juuli' is all of the above.

C. 'Juuli'©Jean Sorenson/Pride of Place PlantsI purchased my plant from the now defunct, but once the reigning temple of clematis in the USA, Chalk Hill Nursery. Chalk Hill's catalog and selection are where it all started for me with clematis plants, and C. 'Juuli' has been in my garden for over 8 years. Jean Sorenson, one of the proprietors of Pride of Place Plants in British Columbia, Canada, has shared that their plant is 21 years old and going strong. So I guess we can add long lived to the plant's attributes.

When I started researching C. 'Juuli' for this article, I realized that the genre see Note 1 of non-vining plants was historically interesting. The plants I am including in this bucket are more frequently purple to blue flowered, larger than integrifolia plants, with semi nodding to more upright buds and less nodding, more open facing flowers.

C. 'Durandii', created in 1870 by breeder Durand Frères most likely was the first of this genre. A long void in hybrids of this type seemed to follow C. 'Durandii'. There is reference to C. × durandii 'Alba' see Note 2, and C. × durandii 'Pallida' see Note 3 in 1935, but those have been long lost to the trade.

The next recorded plants in the genre were in the late 1950s. C. 'Anastasiia Anisimova' ('Durandii' × lanuginosa 'Canada'), and 1959's C. 'Fantaziia', both raised by A.N. Volosenko-Valenis.

The 60's brought C. 'Sputnik ' see Note 4 in 1964, again from the USSR/Ukraine by M.I. Orlov. Following that, C. 'Sizaia Ptitsa' which was raised in 1967 by M.A. Beskaravainaya. Both of these crosses are documented as × 'Durandii' × large flowered hybrids.

It appears that from 1870 on thru to 1984, the only fruitful work to recreate the crosses of Frères was in the Soviet Union.

C. 'Juuli', raised by Uno Kivistik in the USSR/Estonia in 1984, was next, featuring semi-nodding to more upright buds and up to 6 sepals on a non-vining plant of up to 2 meters see Note 5.

These non-vining Clematis plants must have started getting attention to the east, as the 1990's brought the start of a greater number of plants in the genre, first in the United Kingdom, with Fretwell's C. 'Arabella' (c1990), and the lesser known C. 'Miranda' see Note 6 and C. ' Athena' (1994).

Interest by breeders then followed in Holland and Japan with Wim Snoeijer's C. 'Zobluepi' BLUE PIROUETTE in 1992, C. 'Fuzokono' by Hirota in 1997, and finally Evison's C. 'Evisix' PETIT FAUCON in the year 2000.

Interestingly, in the year 2000, Brewster Rogerson wrote the Clematis of the Month about C. 'Durandii' and closed the article by saying " ... they point the way to a new generation of hybridizing. More of them are sure to follow."

How right he was! Consumer interest must have been parallel to the modern breeder's interest in the genre by this time, as registrations then exploded with C. 'Zoblueriver' BLUE RIVER, C. 'Zoeastri' EAST RIVER, C. 'Zostarri' STAR RIVER (all 2000), C. 'Zo06137' HUDSON RIVER, C. 'Zomisri' MISSISSIPPI RIVER (both 2004) and finally C. 'Zo09045' BLUE OCEAN (2006).

What surprised me about noting the history of this genre was that C. 'Juuli' was raised before the flurry of modern plants, including C. 'Arabella'.

C. 'Juuli'©Deborah HardwickWhen I think about C. 'Juuli' the question that comes to mind is what is the distinction between it and best selling C. 'Arabella'? Here in my garden, they are about the same size, even though C. 'Juuli' is officially described as smaller than C. 'Arabella'. My experience may be not typical, as I do cut the plants after a few weeks of blooming, then again hard in mid-summer to keep them bushy and fresher. My main observation on the differences is a slightly gappier flower on C. 'Juuli' and a color that I would state more as a lighter, almost cornflower blue vs. the purple blue of C. 'Arabella'. The deeply grooved mid-rib is also distinctive.

The color is cheerful and with the yellow center (bright yellow anthers), reminds me of a quintessential summer flower, whether allowed to sprawl or tied in a bit for a more vertical display. Leaves are simple, and some are side lobed. The flowers and foliage stand up well in hot North American summer weather.

C. 'Juuli' has perhaps not gotten the recognition it deserves for a plant with all of these attributes. Within clematis, a better garden plant would be hard to find. So I started wondering why there are so few pinks in the genre. The photos of C. 'Anastasiia Ansimova' show a very pale pinkish color, but the pinks that pop to mind are few. Wim Snoeijer's C. 'Zoin' INSPIRATION (deep pink) and C. 'Zoeastri' EAST RIVER (unique coloring close to pink), then 2011's C. 'Sweetheart' (true baby pink) bred by Marco De Wit.
[Editor's note: C. 'Sweetheart' is actually a synonym of C. 'Witswe'.]

A query to Wim Snoeijer, the preeminent breeder of clematis in this genre, about the void in pinks, gave some insight and he was agreeable to being quoted.

"Clematis 'Durandii Pallida' is extinct. A pink with all of the attributes of Clematis 'Durandii' has not been found yet. Anthocyanin is dominant in breeding clematis, hence not so many pinks let alone a white one."

Maybe the next flurry in this wonderful type of plant like C. 'Juuli' will be more pinks, whites or even a red.


  1. The term genre is usually reserved for groupings within music, fashion or art. I have taken the liberty of using the term genre to describe the outcome of a succession of breeders, of clematis which more similar to each other than not.
  2. × durandii 'Alba', referenced in the 1935 Spingarn catalog
  3. × durandii 'Pallida', referenced in the 1935 Spingarn catalog as well as Ernest Markham's book of the same year.
  4. 'Sputnik', with parentage documented as × durandii × C. 'Gipsy Queen' is thought by experts to be incorrect based on the plant morphology.
  5. × durandii in modern gardens does flower with both 4 and 6 sepals
  6. 'Miranda', now officially registered as 'Floclemi', referenced within this article however with the familiar name.

This just in!

Just heard from Agnes Kivistik and she wanted us to share that Clematis 'Juuli' was named for the time of year in Estonia when it begins to flower. It starts in July, which, in Estonian, is "Juuli".

They like to use it horizontally as a ground cover, and she included one of her father's photos of C. 'Juuli' in their own garden, which you see here.
C. 'Juuli' in the Kivistik private garden©Taavi Kivistik

Deborah Hardwick Deborah Hardwick

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