Clematis rehderiana is one of the joys of autumn. It is not a plant for every garden but, where you have the right spot for it, it is a delight. Growing wild in western China and Tibet, it was introduced to the ‘west’ in 1908 by Ernest Wilson. Like most late-flowering clematis it is best pruned hard in spring and it will them grow vigorously, clambering on, over and through any support, covering it with large, coarsely divided leaves of mid green on purple stems. You need space for this one and it is not a plant for a 2m square piece of trellis on a wall! It will easily over an arbour or pergola or could be allowed to grow through a large shrub or small tree. My mind keeps thinking it would be good up a buddleia (davidii-type) because the clematis would bloom after the buddleia, both could be pruned at the same time and it would look good for months. The only problem would be that the buddleia would need a head start for a couple of years or the clematis would not give the buddleia a chance to get going.
Where you do have space, a sunny spot is best provided the soil is neither bone dry or wet. It is more or less hardy but will benefit from wall protection in the colder parts of the country (UK or Ireland). The real joy of the plant is right now when the nodding, pale yellow flowers open. They are small compared to the size of the plant but they have a delicate charm. The lateness of the flowers would make it worth growing but an real bonus is the fragrance. This is often called the cowslip clematis, probably because the flowers resemble cowslips. But it could also be that the flowers smell of cowslips. I have a feeling they do but since the two plants flowers so far apart in the year I am unsure of my senses and would not like to swear that they smell the same.Whatever, the flowers smell delightful but they do not waft their scent on the air, even on a lovely sunny day like last Sunday when I met this fine plant at Glasnevin. There it covers a pergola very effectively and, becausethe stems are allowed to trail, the flowers are within sniffing range. If allowed to clamber up a tree maybe only the birds will get to smell the flowers.