We can always rely on Japanese plant breeders to bring us amazing plants, and ‘Taiga’ is a perfect example of their skills with the small and beautiful. ‘Taiga’ is a compact Clematis with intricate cool blue and green flowers. Here’s the story of how this beauty went from small Japanese backyard to the garden centre benches of Europe:
Sadly, the creator of the beautiful ‘Taiga’ has now passed away. Mr Udagawa had been working on Clematis for many years on his small pocket of land in the Meguro area of Tokyo, Japan. His lifelong passion meant he kept himself extremely busy hybridising 1000’s of Clematis each year, and had a particular love of the Clematis florida types.
The Clematis florida species are known for being a little easier to grow than some Clematis. Firstly, they don’t grow too big, so won’t be making a nuisance of themselves in the way that Clematis montana sometimes does! Clematis florida aren’t complicated to prune either (they just need a haircut once a year in March!) The plants also have a good balance of flowers on the plants, unless some ‘bare bottomed’ Clematis!
As ever, ‘Taiga’ comes with a practical Japanese attitude, and it’s compact size means they are excellent for urban gardens too. They are ideal for patio containers, narrow borders by grey alleyways, covering ugly sheds and more!
Where does the name come from though? ‘Taiga’ translates as ‘wide river’, which could refer to the colour and pattern of the flowers. However, Mr Udagawa never told anyone why he chose the name, so we aren’t able to confirm. However, we can call him an artist, and in being able to create ‘Taiga’ his legacy will live on.
The way each flower bud opens is a work of art in itself, and prolongs the interest and flowering period of the plant! The blue and cream flowers have a green glow, and you’ll find some later season flowers with a range of differing appearances. Amazingly, Mr Udagawa managed to create a Clematis that almost looks like a Passion Flower!
Since Mr Udagawa’s passing, his horticultural friends have taken on the breeding programme, and you’ll be pleased to know there is more to come! I’ve seen a photo of the next one and it’s just as gorgeous as ‘Taiga’, and is another Clematis florida so can be grown in the smallest of spaces. The world of ‘urban clematis’ looks set for big things!
How to grow Clematis ‘Taiga’:
Flowering time: June to September
Location: walls, fences, obelisks, patio pots
Soil: well-drained and rich
Light: sun or part shade
Hardy: oh yes! Comes back every year.
Size: 2 metres maximum
Shrub of the Month is sponsored by Plantipp, a company based in The Netherlands who handle the introduction of new plants into Europe (with Concept Plants doing the same job in North America). Clematis ‘Taiga’ was introduced by Plant Network, who source for Plantipp in Japan. Look out for more exciting plants- and the stories behind them- in the very near future!
**Gentle Warning: this post may be sponsored or include affiliate links, however please be assured that any products spoken about have the Plant Geek seal of approval.**
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook – and writes a plant-focused Substack called Grow This, Not That.