I confess I’m a real cheerleader when it comes to American clematis and nothing would make me happier than to see millions (okay, maybe thousands) of clematis being sold that were bred here in the good old USA. That being said, since my parents were from New Zealand, I find myself also having a soft spot for clematis from their homeland. So, I’ve decided to share with you three of my New Zealand favorites: Clematis ‘Aotearoa’, Clematis ‘Honora’ and Clematis ‘Prince Charles’.
Clematis ‘Aotearoa’ receives my top honors. Aotearoa is the word the Maoris (the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand) use for their homeland. It means “land of the long white cloud”. It’s a viticella which of course means it is very vigorous and free-flowering. What makes it so special for me is that it is blessed with attractive, twisted tepals that are 5-inchs in diameter and are colored a gorgeous, deep, velvety-purple. I also like that it has contrasting yellow stamens. It is a definite winner!
Clematis ‘Prince Charles’ comes in second place, but only by a hair. It has a pretty pastel coloring and is a dependable bloomer. Who could ask for anything more? Year after year I’m treated with masses of attractive, periwinkle-mauve tepals with a deep midrib. Because the French introduction Clematis ‘Perle d'Azur’ is rather similar to Clematis ‘Prince Charles’, you may have considered acquiring one, but I would definitely give my royal blessing to Clematis ‘Prince Charles’ as the better choice.
Finally, an honorable mention goes to Clematis ‘Honora’. Even though mine passed away a few years ago, I still have fond memories of it and think it was a very lovely clematis. Its best feature is its coloring. The tepals are a dark, rich, purple which have been mixed with a hint of striking raspberry.
All three of these clematis have the distinction of being raised by New Zealander Alister Keay.