Although the summer garden finds most northern plants at their most bountiful and eye-catching, there are a few species that can best be admired in the winter. Wild Clematis (Clematis virginiana) or Virgin’s Bower is one of these winter beauties. While the blooms of August are attractive enough, these vines tend to blend in with the abundant summer growth surrounding them. I have never noticed the Virgin’s Bower growing amongst the hedgerow here until winter, when it is suddenly made conspicuous by a pretty show of fluffy seed heads, sometimes called Old Man’s Beard.
Wild Clematis is a moisture lover, and is often found in damp areas. A member of the buttercup (Ranunculaceae) family, Wild Clematis is a woody vine that commonly reaches about 3 metres in length. The vine lacks tendrils, and supports itself by wrapping around other plants or a fence as it grows. The white flowers have 4 sepals and bloom in clusters from July to September.