The popular varieties of Clematis are climbers, but there are a few herbaceous perennial species which grow no more than 4 ft high and are suitable for the border. They are not difficult to grow, but they are difficult to find unless you go to a supplier of unusual plants. Before planting in the herbaceous border add compost to the soil – if the ground is badly drained it would be foolhardy to grow this out-of-the-ordinary plant. Support the stems with twigs, apply a mulch in May and refrain from hoeing close to the plants.

VARIETIES: C. heracleifolia is the species you are most likely to find. Basic details are height 3-4 ft. Spacing ltfe-2 ft.

Flowering period: August-September. The fragrant 1 in. blossoms have light blue, curled-back petals. C. recta grows to the same height but the flowers are quite different-large clusters of white fragrant blooms in June and July. C. integrifolia is a smaller plant (1.5-2 ft) blooming from June to August. The blue bell-shaped flowers, about 1.5 in. across, are borne singly on top of the stems.

SITE AND SOIL: Any well-drained moist soil will do. Add lime if the soil is acid. Thrives in sun or light shade.

PROPAGATION: Plant cuttings in a cold frame in April or divide clumps in autumn or spring.

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