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Clematis flammula flowerVirgin's Bower (Clematis flammula) Info
This vining native of southern Europe was introduced into medieval British gardens in 1590 and is much enjoyed for the extremely sweet scent of its small flowers, which smell like a wonderful combination of vanilla and almond. Despite its Venus-like name, it's a typical Saturn plant - it is vining, prefers to grow in open woodlands, has small flowers, and is poisonous. It has a Saturn concern for borders, preferring to grow in hedges and enjoying rampaging over obstacles like sheds. In the language of flowers, this magick herb represents one's children's love. Magickally, it is a good plant for works concerning the sweetness that comes late in life, cronehood, and honoring elders. Top

Clematis flammula seedheadThis a deciduous climber that can get big--16ft x 3.5ft/4m x 1m. It makes flowers only on new growth, so if you prune, do so only in early spring (and wear gloves to protect yourself from the sap). It especially likes to climb mature evergreen and orchard trees, which does not harm the trees in any way. You can train it up a trellis (make it a sturdy one), but it's also great as a groundcover where it will get dappled shade. The flowers appear late in the season, August-October, and are pollinated by bees or flies, whoever is around. They are followed by wonderfully ghostly seedheads (see pic). It will grow in any soil except soaked clay. It does not like to share with other plants of its size and will inhibit the growth of legumes. Like many members of the buttercup family, it has acrid sap that will burn the mouth and irritate the skin, but it rarely harms because it gives fair warning this way. Top

 Clematis flammula engravingHow to grow: Soak seed in warm water for 12 hours and then remove the outer coat and plant. It should germinate in 6-12 weeks. Cold-moist stratify for 3 months for higher germination (sow in paper towel that has been wet and wrung out, put in baggie, keep in fridge) or sow on Winter Solstice (see special directions on the Solstice Sowing page). Transplant to partial shade/dappled shade. This plant does not live that long for a perennial--7-10 years--but once you get it started, it is easy to root from cuttings made in spring dipped in rooting hormone and stuck in a pot. It does not like too much wind, too much shade, or too much wet. Perennial hardy to zone 6 (-10F/-23C). Rabbit-proof. General growing info  Top

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Uses in Witchcraft & Magick:

Honoring Elders
Saturn Herb

2004, 2014 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction of any part without permission.