Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Watched Pot Finally Boils

It seems like I've been waiting all spring for my Clematis 'Josephine' to open its flowers. It was a couple of months ago that I first noticed it had several buds, that since then have just gotten fatter and fatter, but despite my constant hovering, stubbornly refused to open.

I've even been applying a camera-based variation of The Stare of Life, first given its name by Jason in his blog Garden in a City, where he defines it thus: "The Stare of Life is an intense gaze that warms the soil and hastens processes of cell division and photosynthesis." (Read more about The Stare of Life here.) I've been taking photos of the fat buds on my Clematis 'Josephine' over and over, every time thinking "Maybe tomorrow you'll be open." Should I give the constant application of the camera lens a name? Maybe The Fecund Lens? The Lens of Fecundity is too much of a mouthful, and the word "fecund" seems to apply, since flowers are a plant's sexual organs, designed for the purpose of producing progeny in the form of seeds (although 'Josephine' is in fact sterile).

On April 10:

On April 21:

Buds getting fatter

And ultimately, on May 14, the day before Garden Bloggers Bloom Day:

Surely they'll open soon

Still not open

Finally, after a long day out of the garden during our most recent heat wave, I came home to make a quick round of the garden in the fading light of the day, and found the first flower of 'Josephine' beginning to open.

In  the day's fading light, finally the first petals unfurl

More buds waiting in the wings

The next morning, open a little more, although Josephine's infamous ruff of shorter petals has yet to make its appearance

In the morning, a second flower has begun to open

And a third

A few days later, and the shorter petals start to unfurl

For some reason, I have always wanted to call this Clematis 'Empress Josephine' assuming wrongly that it is named after the wife of Napoleon Bonaparte. With all those frills, doesn't it look like it should? But in fact, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden website, "This cultivar was discovered in England by Josephine Hill and introduced there in 1998 by Raymond Evison (Gurnesy Clematis Nursery) under the original cultivar name of 'Evijohill'. Plants are being marketed by nurseries under the trade name of JOSEPHINE."

Are you out there in your garden tapping your foot impatiently waiting for something to grow?


  1. Certainly worth waiting for, just beautiful and the beginning of a stunning summer view.

    Go ahead and call it by the garden name of Empress Josephine, much more elegant that Evijo Hill.

    Sometimes I stop and ask myself why I am wishing to hurry things along instead of enjoying the moment of what is blooming now, too soon gone..

  2. Hooray that she's finally arrived! She may be a late bloomer because you kept calling her buds fat. "Do these buds make my vine look big?" Most ladies, Empresses or not prefer the answer to be, no, they're just right.

    I'm taking my camera out to photograph the ground where my always late to emerge arisaemas should be coming up.

  3. Thank you for including the shots of the buds, and the dates. Indeed she took her time but who can blame her for the drama, what a beauty!

  4. I laughed when I saw this post, Alison - not over your dismay with 'Josephine's' lazy progress in getting her bloom on but with the fact that she appears to present the same behavior in dealings with other gardeners. You may want to check Cathy's Sunday post at Rambling in the Garden:

  5. Nelly Moser is being just as stubborn here Alison. Josephine is a lovely Clematis but she toiled in my garden and finally gave up on her.
    Taking those shots must have been so frustrating - it would have been for me anyway!

  6. What a tease! I was thinking I would be perfectly happy with those gorgeous buds...but then the flowers came along and suddenly I could identify with your impatience. Tamara did a post about coming home from a two week vacation to a garden bursting with bloom. Personally, I would hate to miss out on the foot tapping.

  7. Clemmies are notoriously slow opening their buds. This has been my experience, for sure. My C. integrifolia 'Rosea' finally popped a bud yesterday. I miss my 'Josephine.' It passed away two years ago and I am still grieving. Gorgeous photos, Alison and I love the rusty trellis Josephine clings to.

  8. That's a bloom worth waiting for!
    I'm finding that things are coming and going to quickly. the wisteria is now rapidly dropping its flowers. e wait so long and the show is so short. Fortunately there is usually something else coming along.

  9. I'm always impatient for something to grow/bloom! Congratulations on your discovery of the Fecund Lens! Apparently it works!

  10. I don't think I have ever seen clematis buds taking so long to bloom....I have a few that will bloom soon I hope.


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