The flower and fruit of the crabapple tree in the Upper Garden have remained a feature in the garden since we bought the house in 1989. Unfortunately, by the end of the season, most of the leaves have become diseased and fallen off the tree. To help hide the unsightly foliage late in the season, I planted Clematis tangutica 'Bill MacKenzie'at the base of the tree.
The nodding lantern-shaped yellow flowers are a beautiful contrast to the shiny red crabapples.
The stems of Clematis tangutica 'Bill MacKenzie' hang elegantly from the tree.
The whispy seed heads are almost as ornamental as the flowers. Clematis tangutica 'Bill MacKenzie' is a quick-grower. I planted this vine in 2012 and in three years the vine has clambered up the entire tree. I will be interested to see how long the foliage remains green and attractive; it has a reputation of looking good into late autumn. Clematis tangutica 'Bill MacKenzie' blooms on new wood and can be cut back hard in spring without affecting the flower display. This vigorous vine will grow 15-20 feet and is an excellent choice for planting under small spring-flowering trees to offer a "second bloom" later in the season.