Behind the Private Gates, Design, In the Garden, Initial Thoughts

Vivacious Autumn Clematis

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I remember many years back describing with great affection my take on Autumn clematis, or ‘clematis paniculata’…”vivacious…embracing…enveloping…a bit free with her favors…and goes by the honeyed name, Sweet Autumn Clematis. Am I describing a lady of questionable behavior or a trailing vine that appears with great enthusiasm just at this time of the year?”

And so, I found myself this mid-September rising to the challenge of locating new scenes of this lovely horticultural treat — in the early morning to capture the soft light of dawn or late afternoon on the way to a cocktail party (which always prompts a grumble from hubby). Nothing is too precious for my weekly posts!

With her fresh lime green buds that open to a beguiling five-petaled white star that grows in vast abundance (enveloping might be another word) she rambles and gambols over anything in her path. It’s become a bit of a game to find differing examples of just what I’m describing, but so rewarding.

One can easily forgive her “wanton” ways, though, when you view just how dreamy and romantic she makes everything look. “Bridal veil” is another popular name for her.

She complements architecture…

as well as framing romantic garden features, like a Federal Revival gate.

One never knows where they might run into this joyous display, or around which corner she may have decided to alight.

I remember specifically walking through downtown Newport last week on a route I hadn’t traveled at this time of the year, and there she was…perfectly at home on the hedges of two Colonial homes in Queen Anne Square, in the shadow of Trinity Church, adding appreciably to this historic Newport site. A meant-to-be moment…

As the years go by, I’ve come to appreciate another merit of the Private Newport posts — documenting houses, gardens, etc. that have been changed considerably (or no longer exist). Autumn clematis is a perfect example. The glorious display on a dear friend’s small “reading room,” that was posted way back in 2016, is no longer draping itself around the folly’s balustrade. So, for old time’s sake, I’m including some of those images here. I think you’ll agree that they are too special not to include (which can certainly be said of the Parterre Bench, created for my Newport garden many years ago…and now available to those seeking a special centerpiece for your green paradise).


If not already, I hope you’re now awakened to the possibilities of the ‘Autumn Clematis,’ for “to see her is to love her.”

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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

10 thoughts on “Vivacious Autumn Clematis

  1. As to be expected, another beautiful post from you Bettie. Thank you for sharing early autumn in Newport. Wish I was there!

  2. Just wondering, does Autumn Clematis strangle planting material? I do know it can get out of control.
    So pretty though this time of year!
    Thank you for sharing snd any advice.

  3. Well, Bettie, you opened a door in my heart and stepped on the sentimental button! My mother-in-law to be brought that beautiful autumn clematis to our Rehearsal Dinner party and had it trailing down her pair of tall glass compotes in the middle of the table. It was the most stunning arrangement and certainly apropos of the name Bridal Veil. I planted some on my pergola at my back door and it always reminds me of her and that happy time!

  4. It’s beautiful! However, here in Alabama, it tends to be invasive, so we look for the Clematis virginiana to plant instead. They are practically identical in flowers, but the leaves of the native variety are toothed.
    Thank you for another delightful post. Perfection as always.

  5. Autumn Clematis is a beautiful vine with white flowers this time of year. I don’t have in my garden because the leaves and sap is poisonous to humans, dogs, cats, children, and horses.

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