Love of clematis leads to national collection


When you fall in love with a particular type of plant the desire, not only to grow it, but also to discover its many varieties and habits also develops and sometimes turns into a passion.

For Charlie and Liz Pridham, who garden at Roseland House in Chacewater, Truro, it was the delivery of a collection of plants which happened to contain clematis that started their passion for growing this most delightful of all plants. It was a passion that led in 1992 to an approach by the British Clematis Society to hold a National Plant Collection, being told at the time that, ‘Cornwall is a difficult place to grow clematis and so if you can grow them anyone can.’

Their Collection of Clematis viticella cvs is now recorded as part of the National Plant Collection and Charlie and Liz are delighted to welcome visitors who come to their garden in Cornwall to discover more about these special plants.

Charlie will admit that not all the varieties in the collection are worth growing but for him part of the challenge is in the experimental cultivation of the plants.

side-charlie-and-lizRoseland House Gardens have 64 varieties of clematis growing within the garden with new varieties constantly being developed in the nursery. Charlie noted that visitors often wanted to compare the colours of clematis so he has designed new areas of the garden to bring together clematis of one colour.

The long history of the plants also interests Charlie who explains that many can be traced back to Roman times or earlier. He points out that: “It is important for our cultural heritage that these plants are recorded and preserved for our appreciation today and for future generations to enjoy.”

He also considers names to be important when creating new varieties: “My particular favourites are ‘Minuet’ created in the 1920s which implies a dancing nodding flower and ‘Charlie Brown’ which was bred by Mike Brown with seed from the ‘Prince Charles’ clematis, particularly special since the ‘Prince Charles’ variety rarely makes seed.” (Charlie Brown is pictured above in our banner.)

‘Poldice’ cultivated by Charlie and specifically bred for the area around Chacewater, has won an Award for Garden Merit. The Cornwall Blind Association named a clematis ‘Cornish Spirit’ in a recent competition and this plant is now within the National Plant Collection.

Clematis vitcella cvs copes with harsh conditions and so is an easy clematis for a hard place. You will find them at Roseland House winding their way around trees, shrubs and other plants in the garden. Visitors to the garden can see if a plant grows well in sun or shade, or is suitable for their chosen part of their own gardens. During garden open days Liz and Charlie are on hand to advise and plants can also be purchased in their nursery.

side-clematis-poldiceThe National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens (NCCPG), now known as Plant Heritage, was formed in 1978 to “conserve cultivated plants grown in the UK and Ireland including preserving varieties of garden plants which were being steadily lost to cultivation.” National plant collections can be found in private gardens, on allotments, in nurseries, local parks, botanic gardens or historic estates. They are an important part of our plant heritage and conservation. (Pictured right: ‘Poldice‘)

Cornwall holds a number of significant National Plant Collections in gardens ranging from the National Trust at Anthony House, Torpoint to Caerhayes Castle and the Lost Gardens of Heligan, with many smaller collections in private gardens, including Roseland House Garden.

You can find details of local groups and information on the charity by logging onto:

Alistair Rivers, National Plant Collections Area Representative of the Cornish branch of Plant Heritage, is keen to promote the charity’s work: “Plant Heritage in Cornwall works at promoting the work of the charity. We have been helping gardeners and garden owners for over 25 years to get the most from the plants in their gardens. If you need more background information about growing and enjoying plants then we are the group for you. Check out the website to find a branch local to you and come along to meet others and join in. We look forward to welcoming new members and members from other branches at all our meetings and garden walks.”

New members are always welcome whether you have a National Plant Collection or are just interested in gardens and preserving plants for future generations to enjoy.

Why not plan your holidays for 2016 around visiting and enjoying gardens with National Plant Collections. Charlie and Liz Pridham look forward to welcoming you to Roseland House Garden and if you love clematis and want to know more about them or compare the many cultivars in cultivation then there can be no better place to start.

You can find more information about the nursery, garden and opening times by linking to