Earlier this year we came across a beautifully hand-drawn plan which showed that there had once been a great many varieties of clematis in the Walled Garden at Parham during the time of Lady Emma’s great aunt, Veronica Tritton. This immediately sparked the interest of our Head Gardener, Andrew Humphris, who has experience growing these plants himself (and had been thinking about introducing a few varieties into the Walled Garden).
Only a very short while later, Andrew noticed an article in the magazine of the National Clematis Society. The article announced that the society was looking for gardens to participate in a scheme to relocate and disperse the national clematis collection. The collection had been started by Val Le May Neville Parry, a member of the society, and was at that time held in her garden in Wiltshire.
Andrew immediately got in touch with Val and with the secretary of the Clematis Society, Julian Noble, to express his interest in the scheme. A visit was arranged, and following a tour of the Gardens and an explanation of the historical significance of clematis planting at Parham, Val and Julian agreed that Parham would indeed be a suitable home for part of this important collection.
At the end of September, Lady Emma Barnard and Andrew welcomed representatives from the National Clematis Society and from Sussex Plant Heritage to witness the moment when the first Clematis Montana (‘Giant Star’) from the collection was planted in the Gardens at Parham. In addition to Giant Star, seven further varieties have also now been planted, including; ‘Crinkle’ , ‘Diana Jazwinski’, ‘Highdown’, ‘Victoria Welcome’, ‘Mayleen’, ‘Alan Postil’ and ‘Lilacina’. This number is set to grow as the team patiently wait for more of the plants to fully root in their pots before planting them out in the Gardens. The process will continue over the next few years, until the Garden reaches full capacity.
These wonderful plants are a welcome addition to Parham and underline a significant element of the history which the Garden Team aim to recapture through their redevelopment of the borders. The clematis varieties will flower in May, bringing colour to the borders before they then become fully established later in the year.
We would like to thank Val le May Neville Parry, the Clematis Society, and Sussex Plant Heritage for their support of this initiative.