New clematis often feature on this blog, but rarely is one quite as different as this. ‘Sweet Summer Love’ is the first fragrant clematis with large colourful flowers. There are a few fragrant clematis already, C. flammula and the related C. x aromatica, come to mind, but ‘Sweet Summer Love’ not only has a strong scent but very colourful flowers.
Reaching about 11ft/3.5m in height, from early July until September the plant is covered with flowers which open in deep red, then mature through purple-red, then purplish violet to violet then becoming paler as they fade. Each flower is just under 2in/5cm across and has an intense scent. One plant can carry as many as 1000 flowers delivering not only a spectacular effect, but a heavy dose of perfume.
‘Sweet Summer Love’ is happy in any reasonable soil where it gets at least some sunshine, such as on a east, west or south wall or fence. It can be limited in size by hard pruning every spring, just cut the plant down to about 8in/20cm above the ground as the buds start to burst.
Breeder Szczepan Marczyński tells me that ‘Sweet Summer Love’ was the result of a cross made in July 2003 at his nursery near Warsaw in Poland. He prefers not to reveal the identities of the parent plants but the plant is related to C. flammula. The cross produced just one single seed which germinated the following year. It was planted outside in 2006 and first flowered in 2007.
I asked Szczepan to describe the fragrance. “I would say it is pleasant, delicate, sweet, with elements of evening stock, Viola, vanilla with note of almond...” he told me. And on such a colourful plant, too.
You can order plants of Clematis ‘Sweet Summer Love’ from Crocus, from Gardening Direct, and from The Walled Garden Nursery.