Traveller's joy (Clematis vitalba) is also known as old man's beard as well as wild clematis. You may frequently encounter any one of these names but most field guides seem to favour traveller's joy although I am not sure why when the other two seem more appropriate to me!
The hedgerows of Dorset are full of this vigorous climbing plant, it can be found anywhere on chalk and limestone soils and where it occurs it can be abundant. It is its presence in the hedgerows that border footpaths and bridle ways that make it such a joy to behold for weary travellers.
The traveller's joy is a double win for our wildlife population as the lovely little cream flowers come out in mid-summer and are a popular nectar source and then, in autumn, massed seed heads appear and so our seed eating birds take their turn. It is the white, fluffy seed heads that give it the name old man's beard. It is certainly one of our more scruffy plants but it really is lovely where ever it occurs whether in flower or in seed.Travellers Joy: the old mans beard