It goes without saying that Martha Stewart is the quintessential homemaker as well as a very successful businesswoman. It is hard to go anywhere these days and not see her iconic branding on a broad range of products from cookware, bed and bath items, paint, furniture, crafting supplies and even pet goods. Wow! So, when I saw my favorite lifestyle authority had written the article, “Garden Notes: In midsummer heat, Martha's Vineyard gardeners try to stay cool”, which included a spotlight on a clematis, I was eager to read it. In her article Ms. Stewart proclaims, “A favorite of mine that has proved reliable over the years is Clematis x durandii”. I totally agree with her positive appraisal, so I’ve decided to share with you my profile of this exquisite French clematis so that maybe you too will want to add it to your garden.
Clematis ‘Durandii’ (syn. Clematis x durandii) makes fabulous cut flowers! In Japan this beauty is revered as a cut flower and I am sure the reason is because it has an incredibly long shelf life (i.e. they will live up to three weeks as a cut flower). The Japanese actually have nurseries dedicated to growing them just as cut flowers. Unfortunately, our American growers have not yet realized the potential of this stunning classic. I can only hope once our floral designers are exposed to them that they will become another long-lasting floral choice as is Alstromeria.
The flower’s tepals are colored a deep, purplish blue. The flower is 4” in diameter and usually has 4 (though may sometimes produce 5 or 6) tepals with deep-channeled midribs. It stamens are a golden yellow sometimes described as an “eye”. This clematis has the ability to repeat bloom throughout the season. It grows in USDA Zones 4 through 12. I have read that it will reach 6 feet tall. However, for the 11plus years I have grown mine in my Southern California garden (USDA Zone 10a), it has never surpassed a couple of feet. So, I think it might be safer to say that you can only expect it to reach a height of 3 to 5 feet. Because of its compact size it makes an excellent container selection. It thrives equally in sunny or shady locations. You should prune it hard, but in the colder zones Mother Nature will do it for you because it dies right down to the ground.
Since C. ‘Durandii’ is a non-clinging clematis it will need to be attached to its support as it grows (see Attaching Your Clematis in Style). Support can also be achieved by allowing it to grow into a shrub. A good neighboring plant choice would be one with “chartreuse” foliage such as Helichrysum petiolare ‘Limelight’. This combination will really make the striking color of the C. Durandii’ pop out (see Howdy Neighbor for more companion plants suggestions).
The bottom line is that if you want a clematis in your garden that has the staying power of the Energizer Bunny and just keeps on going and going, plant this one. And the good news is that no batteries are required!
Martha Stewart’s final sentence of her article is, “You will admire it endlessly.” I couldn’t have said it any better myself, but having the queen of domesticity giving it her royal approval is one of those rewarding moments in life I live for. So, I’d like to thank, Martha Stewart for helping in the crusade to clematize gardeners by spotlighting a clematis that is a joy to grow.