Last month while touring Battery Park with the Scott Associates’ bus trip, I was taken with a clematis growing as an attractive groundcover under a stand of sycamores. At first inspection, I thought the typical seed heads of clematis were creating a smart display after having grown up the sturdy stems of another plant. A second look revealed that the groundcover was not in fact a clematis growing up another perennial, but the sub-shrub clematis, Clematis heracleifolia ‘Wyevale’.
Clematis heracleifolia ‘Wyevale’ has an upright growth habit with study stems and coarse large foliage. This species features dense axillary clusters of blue flowers which mature to the characteristic whirled seedheads of clematis. It is called a sub-shrub because it develops a woody crown or base as the plant matures. It can be cut back to this woody base each winter.
The fragrant Clematis heracleifolia var. davidiana can be found growing the Theresa Lang Garden of Fragrance. C. heracelifolia var. davidiana is considered more fragrant than C. heracleifolia ‘Wyevale’; while ‘Wyevale’ was chosen for its large flowers.
Explore the world of sub-shrub clematis and its cultivars and crosses as a distinctive groundcover in your garden.