Clematis ‘Vyvyan Pennell’ was raised by Walter Pennell of Pennell and Sons nursery in the mid-fifties and was named after his wife. Pennells was founded in 1780 and is still in the ownership of the same family – quite a record!
So, Walter Pennell not only raised one of my favourite clematis, (which incidentally is probably the best known of all the Pennell introductions) but he seems to have been responsible for the opening of the first of what was then called a ‘plant centre’, this one being no more than a small shop with beds of plants grown in old crisp tins from the local Smith’s Crisp Factory!
Vyvyan Pennell is a very showy, large-flowered clematis whose flowers are double early in the season, and single later in the summer. The first crop of flowers is produced on last year’s wood, and this clematis is in Pruning Group 2*, so it is of course crucial to stick to the all-important pruning rules; I failed to get this right for years and spent a long time wondering why mine failed so spectacularly to produce the early doubles!
Vyvyan Pennell is the result of a cross between ‘Daniel Deronda’ and ‘Beauty of Worcester’ and the deep mauve/purple flowers are very handsome indeed. Before writing this piece, I first went to my clematis bible which is by Christopher Lloyd, and soon learnt that I have been mispronouncing the name for almost as long as I have been mis-pruning the plant – the accent should be on the first syllable of Pennell – as in fennel!
*Taken from ‘Clematis’ by Christopher Lloyd
Group B. Cut out dead growth. Shorten all remaining vines to the first pair of strong buds. Time of pruning: February – March, when the buds referred to will already be plump and green. To this group belong all the large-flowered hybrids (including the doubles) that are expected to start their main flush of blossoming before mid-June. Examples: ‘Nelly Moser’, Lasurstern’, ‘Miss Bateman’, ‘Duchess of Edinburgh’, ‘Vyvyan Pennell’, ‘Mrs Cholmondeley’.
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