The plant Clematis vitalba is one of the Kent’s five native woody climbers. It has liana-like stems and prefers alkaline soils characteristic of the chalk hills of the Kent region. It is often found on fences, walls and hedgerows, and as a ‘classic railway plant’ it naturally covers large areas around the mural. It might very well be this association with travelling and reaching a destination that dubbed the plant traveller’s joy. Or maybe we can imagine the joy of our ancestors who travelled through the wilderness, reaching a town with man-built walls covered in this plant. In the painting, Clematis is depicted in its seasonal forms. The winter form of the plant has clustered elongated seedpods covered in white fuzz which gave Clematis its other nickname – old man’s beard. There is not much known about the plant’s significance in history of the region, but it was used in traditional recipes to treat skin irritation and stress. The woody stems could also be used to make baskets. Clematis attracts a green moth Hemistola chrysoprasaria, which became a part of Canterbury’s green heritage and is referenced in the mural too.
Article written by: Miroslava