Back in April I ordered a clutch of new clematis for my garden, all from Thorncroft Nursery. They were destined to cover a shabby stretch of fence leading from the street to my new back door. The plants arrived in good health and were stashed in the greenhouse until I was ready to plant them out. In the steady warmth they grew so rapidly that I was compelled to get on with the job lest they take over. My new climbers have done me proud already, some reaching 6ft or more. Clematis ‘Princess Diana’, a favourite of mine, has grown especially vigorously and is still producing waxy pink flowers now. Meanwhile I’ve been a little underwhelmed by C. ‘Princess Kate’. Perhaps another season will see her produce a royal flush. By comparison, a couple of clematis purchased from Tesco for £3 each have grown very little, although I expect they will catch up with the others in time.
A white-flowered clematis named ‘Forever Friends’ was singled out to be trained against the wall of the house. Numerous inelegant alterations have rendered the brickwork a mess. I am hoping between the clematis and Magnolia grandiflora ‘Exmouth’ they will create a pleasing distraction from the chipped London stocks and uneven pointing. In retrospect I am not convinced pure white is the best complement for yellow brick – I may yet replace it with a variety bearing cream flowers, such as C. ‘Guernsey Cream’ – but it has performed brilliantly well in its first season. Having scaled the wall to 8ft, which is higher than the most optimistically placed support wire, it has already been flowering for six weeks. The later blooms have been smaller, but remain plentiful.
Clematis ‘Forever Friends’ was raised by a renowned Dutch breeder called Wim Snoeijer and named in memory of his father, Piet. As a clematis it has been described as the ‘white Jackmanii’ because of its tough, floriferous nature. Anyone who’s grown Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ will appreciate what a compliment that is. If cut back hard in early spring, C. ‘Forever Friends’ will produce copious single white flowers with four, five or six petals, each with a distinctive reddish eye, from July until September. The satiny white petals may occasionally be flushed pink, violet or green. Like many clematis, ‘Forever Friends’ prefers to have its lower portions shaded and its head in the sun. Reaching a maximum height of about 10ft it’s the perfect climber for a fence, house wall, pergola or arch.
Far from the cutesy greetings cards that share the same name, Clematis ‘Forever Friends’ is a class act with enduring appeal. Quite why it doesn’t have an RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM) I don’t know, but I am hereby giving it my personal seal of approval.
If you are interested in white and cream flowered clematis, here are ten of the best, as recommended by Wim Snoeijer himself:
- Clematis ‘Anita’
- Clematis ‘Duchess of Edinburgh’
- Clematis ‘Elten’
- Clematis ‘Forever Friends’
- Clematis ‘Guernsey Cream’
- Clematis ‘Huldine’
- Clematis ‘Kaiu’
- Clematis ‘Maria Cornelia’
- Clematis ‘Princess Kate’
- Clematis terniflora