There are thousands of clematis out there so how do you decide which one is for you? Unless you have something very specific in mind the chances are that we pop down the garden centre and choose something that they have in stock, or maybe even the supermarket. The trouble is that these places tend to stock what sells and that may not necessarily be what you want. After all, am I the only person that stands at the checkout in the supermarket and watches someone else’s shopping go past and thinks ‘so you’re the one that buys that!’
So it is worth looking out for something different, that suits your needs, perhaps, and a clematis that ticks all the boxes, for me, is ‘Alionushka’. This may not be available everywhere because it does not have the big, flat flowers that everyone expects, but if you can get past that, then this is a great plant. I put it in the garden more than ten years ago. It is generally considered an herbaceous type and needs hard pruning in spring, but this poor plant has had no pruning at all for the past 4 years and yet it has fought its way through the evergreen euonymus and brambles even though it is now under a large eucalyptus. It is a true survivor.
‘Alionushka’ is an ‘intregrifolia’ hubrid and this one was raised by A.H. Volosenko-Valensis and M. A. Beskaravajnaja at the Botanic gardens in the Crimea in 1961 (or 1963, according to source). It is a cross of C. ‘Nezhdannyi’ × C. integrifolia. Despite its beauty it took a while to become readily available in the UK and as I was looking through some old copies of ‘Dirk van der Werff’s Plants’ it was reported that in October 2000 Farplants were introducing it.
In the past 16 years a lot has happened because it now has an Award of Garden Merit and has done a lot to popularise this group of clematis. It flowers from June to autumn and the deep pink buds open to flower that change shape and colour as they mature. At first the sepals are creased and the tips recurve but as they unfold, the nodding flowers have a looser, bell shape. Though not huge, they are 8cm long so wider than that when open and their bright pink is welcome in the garden.
Because of the easy pruning, it is simple to mix this plant with other climbers or shrubs in the garden. It is lovely clambering through roses and you could let it scramble through or lean against shrubs since it is not too leafy.
Because of its parentage it is free from most diseases and is perfectly hardy. Even better, it is suitable for growing in large pots of John Innes no 3 compost.
Pollen beetles like it too.