I planted several Clematis around the base of an old and very tall mock orange (Philadelphus). The shrub looks a little forlorn until it leafs out fully and blooms, which, serendipitously, happens during summer solstice. Until then, it’s just a woody, awkward shrub that is front and center in my back garden. Hoping to spice it up a bit and give it some interest before and after it blooms, I planted three different varieties of Clematis around its base.

This year, the jewel in my garden is Clematis ‘Josephine.’ Having planted it about three years ago, it is now weaving its way through the mock orange to about 8-10 feet tall, right at eye level as I descend the stairs to my garden below. In past years, I don’t remember its blooms, but that all changed this year. POW! One day I was heading down the stairs and saw lots of 1-1/2 inch tightly balled buds. Each day, I kept watch as the buds opened because I couldn’t remember what the full flower was going to look like. Honestly, I can’t remember another flower I’ve waited to open with such anticipation. And I’m not being disappointed. Tight full buds to day-by-day, slowly unfurling frilly flowers. The descriptions of Josephine on the Web remind me that the petals fall away to leave fluffy centers. I can’t believe my good fortune…and I’m so glad I gave into the impulse to purchase this variety (I think I bought it at Cornell Farms. I took this photo the morning of May 24.

According to Heronswood’s Web site, Josephine is an introduction of Raymond J. Evison, renowned breeder of clematis. I love its description of her: “Sporting an elaborate form and unusual coloring, each bloom begins as a compressed ball of thin petals before bursting and fluffing into a gigantic pom-pom in swirling tones of pink, green and ivory. Given more sun, the color tends to wander towards lilac pink. A rare, lovely and surprising specimen, like something out of a Victorian fairy tale.” How can you beat that!

Share with us the plants you await with great anticipation. Photos can be emailed to and we’ll include them in a future Random Acts of Gardening posting. Please include the name of the plant and if you know where you bought it, share that with us, too.