Well, maybe not directly from Guernsey, but that's where this clematis collection originated, even though these specific plants were sent to me by an Oregon grower. When I stopped into the post office in Langley this morning they were happy to hand off a big box of plants, with tendrils of green already twining their way out through the air holes.
A couple of years ago I went on a Horticulture Magazine lecture tour of the midwest and east coast for my then-new book "A Pattern Garden". I was lucky enough to be traveling around with clematis expert Raymond Evison, a charming man who a tony British accent who raises more clematis than maybe anyone else in the world. He's from the island of Guernsey off the coast of France, where his greenhouses and nurseries are a huge part of the economy on the island. Ever since our lecture tour, so rigorous and exhausting that it was definitely a bonding experience, Raymond has been kind enough to keep me up-to-date on clematis. So you can imagine how excited I was to find the box held five big pots of gorgeous clematis.
The pots were dry as a bone when I unloaded them, but it takes more than a little drought to discourage a clematis; once these babies were watered they perked right up. I'm delighted with the new kinds he sent - check them out at the Raymond Evison Clematis website - but especially with the frou-frou of a clematis called 'Diamantina' (right) that looks like a cheerleader's pom pom. This curiousity of a clematis was launched at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2010, and is rumored to be free-flowering and re-blooming.
There aren't many benefits, like paid vacation or a regular salary, let alone health care, when you're a garden writer, but a surprise box of vigorous, beautiful clematis sure helps make up for it...
The clematis carefully packed in the box (above). Unloaded, well-watered and awaiting cooler, damper weather to be planted into the garden (below).