I always keep a wish list of plants on a handy large sticky note tucked into my weekly pocket calendar. This year’s list has ‘Josephine’ clematis at the top. My first impression, when I came face to face with this flower at Cindy Fairbrook’s garden in Olympia, Washington, was that it was too flamboyant. I might have even heard myself thinking, “Oh too garish, just too over the top!”
Then I saw it again at a few gardens in Portland—at Diana Lamb’s, growing up a post, and again at Gail Austin’s garden, scrambling over the top of an antique plow. ‘Josephine’ was beginning to look beautiful to me, adorably feminine. The central bud of her double flower stood up like a cream-colored topknot, surrounded by a ring of fluffy pink petals like a crinoline. A final layer of outer petals were like a frame around a beautiful painting. The flower was a delicious confection that I now simply have to find for my own garden.