This year Thorncroft Clematis Nursery in Norfolk celebrates twenty years of clematis sales to gardeners. To mark the occasion, at the Chelsea Flower Show next week (stand F6 in the Great Pavilion) they're launching a splendid new variety named for one of the founders of the nursery. ‘Geoffrey Tolver' is named for the father of Ruth Gooch, who now runs Thorncroft with husband John and son Peter. So what sort of a clematis is it?
The 6.5-9cm/2.5-3.5in flowers are deep reddish purple with a soft velvety sheen and an intriguing feature of each bloom is the cluster of stamens in the centre: with purple anthers held on white filaments (stalks) the result is a purple-tipped white cone which unfurls to reveal the two-tone, purple-tipped white stamens.
‘Geoffrey Tolver' has blood of both climbing clematis and herbaceous perennial clematis in its background: it's a cross between C. florida and C. x durandii, the latter itself being a cross between C. lanuginosa and the herbaceous C. integrifolia. The result is a plant reaching only 2-2.5m/6-8ft in height, scrambling rather than clinging and flowering from June to September. It can be cut back hard each spring to keep it to a manageable size, and it's ideal for large containers or to train through shrubs.
They'll have other new clematis on the Chelsea exhibit, check back here for details next week.
You can order Clematis ‘Geoffrey Tolver' at the show, or order from the Thorncroft Clematis website. And you also check out the history of Thorncroft Clematis Nursery.