Plant This: Duchess of Albany clematis

I know gardeners who are successful with traditional clematis in Austin (Annie for one). But many of us can only yearn for those big, beautiful clematis featured in all the garden magazines but which tend to croak in our summer heat.

Happily, the Natural Gardener nursery recommended ‘Duchess of Albany’ clematis to me as a native vine a few years ago. ‘Duchess of Albany’ is actually a hybrid of the native Clematis texensis, which can be hard to find, and ‘Star of India’ clematis, and it’s tough enough for Texas summers.

Mine grows in the filtered shade of the airy Anacacho orchid tree (Bauhinia congesta ), rambling along the low, front-garden fence. It blooms beautifully in spring and has successive flushes of bloom in the summer and fall. It tends to fade out in the hottest part of the summer, its heart-shaped leaves crisping up a bit, but by then the nearby American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana ) has filled out and begun to set its berries for fall. By the time those purple berries ripen, the ‘Duchess of Albany’ is back, its dark-pink blossoms pairing exquisitely with the beautyberries. And the whorling, feathery seedheads that succeed the flowers are a delight to see and touch.

If you’d like to see photos of the Duchess in other seasons in my garden, just go the white Search box located in my sidebar and type “Duchess of Albany.” Scrolling through the posts that pop up should give you an idea of its year-round beauty.

By the way, Linda Lehmusvirta, producer of KLRU’s “Central Texas Gardener,” has joined the Austin garden-blogging scene. Check it out and say hi to a talented, funny, and eloquent Texas gardener. (Austin bloggers, go to the Resources page under “B” to find local blog listings, and drop Linda a comment if you’d like to be listed too.)

Note: My Plant This posts are written primarily for gardeners in central Texas. The plants I recommend are ones I’ve grown myself and have direct experience with. I wish I could provide more information about how these plants might perform in other parts of the country, but gardening knowledge is local. Consider checking your local online gardening forums to see if a particular plant might work in your region.

All material © 2006-2008 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

12 Responses

  1. So beautiful. I think I planted her last year beside the man-eating ‘New Dawn’ rose at the end of the garden. I thought I lost her, but she’s come back in full force. Lovely photos as always, my friend.~~Dee

    Ha, the “man-eating” New Dawn almost got her, huh? I guess she’s pretty tough then. Thanks for your kind comment, Dee. —Pam

  2. KathyG says:


    Beautiful pictures. I love native plants, and try to use them whenever possible. I have been looking for a clematis to grow here, in part shade – I am in Colorado, elevation 7300 feet. Do you think this is worth trying here? I am always testing limits, so if it has half a chance, I would try it out.


    I hope you can grow it, Kathy. I don’t know how far north or how high its range extends. Since it’s a hybrid, it’s probably hardier than the Texas-native parent. Maybe Googling it will tell you what you need to know, or a catalog that carries it. Good luck! —Pam

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    This is a gorgeous clematis Pam. Thanks so much for showing this beauty.

    You’re welcome, Lisa! —Pam

  4. Jan says:

    What a lovely clematis. I am not familiar with it, but I will be looking for it. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

    Jan Always Growing

    You are welcome, Jan. I hope you get a chance to try it in your garden. —Pam

  5. Nancy Bond says:

    What gorgeous blooms…and the foliage is just as nice.

    I agree, Nancy. Thanks for your comment. —Pam

  6. Amy says:

    Such heavenly pink blossoms!

    They’re pretty good, but then I do like pink. —Pam

  7. Kathryn Hall says:

    HI, Pam, I just planted my first clematis here last year and it’s back in full force. Because of our intense heat I put it in a very big very tall pot on the sheltered front porch where it gets only gentle morning sun. I don’t know its name but I could find out if you want to try another. It’s also pink, but not as structured as the one you have successfully grown. Beautiful!

    I’ll look for photos of your pink clematis on your blog, Kathryn. Perhaps you’ve posted it recently (I’m a little behind on my reading). Thanks for the tip. —Pam

  8. Marie says:

    What a beautiful clematis! I love the rose too.

    Thanks, Marie. —Pam

  9. Kristi says:

    They are lovely, such a pretty shade of pink.

    I agree, especially next to the purple beautyberries, which will arrive around August. —Pam

  10. Hilary McDaniel says:

    Pam,I’m growing the native clematis and several others. I’m north of you by 90 miles. I think you can grow them if they’re sited for morning/late evening sun. I love the tiny “bonnets” of my Clematis texensis. I got mine from a fab place in Washington St. I can look up the place if you’re interested. I just returned from Blue Moon gardens in East Texas and almost bought some of the ceramic mushrooms but didn’t. Now I’m sorry because I loved yours in the setting you placed them. Did you get them in Austin? Hilary in China Spring

    Hi, Hilary. Thanks for all the great info about the clematis you’re growing. How funny that you bought our native clematis in Washington, rather than closer to home. Since you like it so much, I may have to look around for a space for one. As for the ceramic mushrooms, they were a gift from my husband’s grandmother, and I believe she mail ordered them but I don’t know from where. Thanks for saying hi! —Pam

  11. Kylee says:

    What a gorgeous clematis! I like it better than some of the traditional ones.

    I’m quite fond of it, but I still long for those big, showy clematis. —Pam

  12. Kathleen says:

    I’m another pink lover so this clematis is fabulous! and you always have such fantastic photos to showcase your plants. It’s a real treat to visit. I bought clematis texensis last year at my local nursery (in Colorado). It didn’t bloom but I’m hopeful for this year and feeling lucky I found it since reading your post and learning it’s difficult to find.

    Thanks for visiting, Kathleen, and for your kind words. How wonderful that you found a C. texensis. I hope it blooms for you soon. —Pam