A Note From Allan

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The Garden Guru designs and plants flower gardens in Montreal, Canada, [USDA Zone 4 or CNDN Zone 5] lectures on design, and offers a garden coach service. An occasional emailed question is welcome and answered free of charge.

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Sunday
Apr172011

Flowering Clematis All Summer Long

Clematis AllanahTrellised walls, latticed fences and arches are prominent features in many flower gardens. Some are covered with climbing roses, some with flowering vines such as Clematis, and some with both. The combination of Roses and Clematis blooming together is beautiful. However, I am not inclined to train Roses to climb on trellises. More about that further down.

Clematis Comtesse de BouchardMature Clematis vines are visually and emotionally satisfying for the perennial gardener because they supply a wall or a pillar of colored blooms whose visual impact cannot be duplicated by any other perennial. That is because they bloom at, and above, eye level and they are densely floriferous for the garden space they occupy.

Clematis Gypsy QueenWhen a neighbor installed a brown, latticed privacy fence to separate our respective properties, I intended to plant climbing roses to camouflage this unsightly divider.

Clematis JackmaniiThen, fellow garden blogger, Eileen, at Gatsby’s Gardens reminded me that training a climbing rose bush was a daunting effort. She cautioned me that the thorns on the branches of the rose climbers might gash a gardener’s skin, even when hands are gloved. Her information was enough to turn me away from rose climbers. I decided to focus on Clematis vines, instead.

Clematis Pink fantasyChoosing Clematis can be overwhelming for me because I want to control bloom time. I am not happy with those that flowers for only one month or those that return to flourish again in late summer or fall.

Clematis Star of IndiaI prefer a continuous output of flowers. In order to dial down the disappointment and stress that occur when Clematis fail to perform, I researched a wish list of some better know cultivars that bloom reliably for longer periods and I have posted their pictures in this blog. Online data revealed that all in this selection begin flowering either in June or July and remain in bloom until September. I hope that data is correct.

Clematis Ville de LyonEach season, I will add one or two more of these varieties to my garden until the brown fence has been camouflaged. Specifically for this project, I will focus on the hotter shades that blend well with the color brown. C. Red Cardinal appears to be the most effective for this purpose.

Clematis AbundanceI have read many blog entries from other gardeners who confess that they ignore the rules of pruning Clematis until the vines become too woody or stop blooming.

Clematis Little NellThis spring will be the first time that I will have pruned one of my older Clematis, although I admit this should have been done two years ago, on its 10th birthday, when the dense bloom crop began to taper off.

Clematis MinuetWhen I saw my first Clematis growing in a friend’s garden, I noticed that he had used twine to attach the earliest year’s growth to a trellis.

Clematis Polish SpiritAt the outset of the following season, subsequent growth would be draped over last year’s vines and they would attach themselves to the closest twig. Then, without the need for twine, most of the Clematis vines were able to attach themselves to the older brush as they grew taller.  Renegade shoots that grow away may be delicately woven by hand into the top layer of older vines. It takes very little contact with a narrow object for a Clematis vine to securely wrap its petioles around it for permanent support.

Clematis HenryiThis family of plants does test gardeners’ endurance because it blooms sparsely for the first two years. It is only in their third year that Clematis rewards us for our patience with impressive flowering displays.

Clematis Red CardinalI focus on those plants that are richly hued because I want them to project from a distance. There is always some disappointment with those almost-pastel cultivars that appear colorful in photos but are bleached by strong daylight. It is difficult to control for that problem as the sun hits each garden, and each spot in a garden, differently. In the case of C. Henryi, a beloved but whitish cultivar, I will plant it next to dark blue or crimson Clematis in order to make its petals pop.

Clematis SunsetEnglish style gardens are enhanced by dark blue or purple-blue varieties. They appear so strikingly in such gardens. However, care must be taken in determining what the word purple means. For some nurseries, it translates into dark wine - which is rather offensive in a pastel English garden. Even a plant tag with a photo may be insufficient to control for this variance. To avoid disappointment, it is best to first research the cultivar online. The descriptive text accompanying a photo of dark blue - purple-looking Clematis should read blue. When it reads purple, the flower might bloom in wine.

Clematis NiobeSome gardeners drape Clematis over rose bushes and ornamental shrubs. Even though it creates a very pretty picture, I avoid that kind of décor because of the extra tidying up that it necessitates, later in the fall. Busy, cold climate gardeners, whose winters arrive early, don’t always have enough mild - weather days to complete all their outdoor chores.

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Reader Comments (5)

Clematis are so rewarding in the garden, aren't they? They add so much panache and flair, in an old-fashioned kind of way.

April 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPlantPostings

Allan, I just added my first clematis, Madame de Bouchaud, to the garden last year. But after looking at your photos, I'm going to look for Star of India, too. I think it would look stunning blooming between Madame de Bouchaud and the 'Heavenly Blue' morning glories on the garden fence.

April 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJean

Clematis are simply vibrant on any landscape. I particularly love the clematis red cardinal. Simply stunning.

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaty Landscaper

I have a white thatched cottage, where have a Cardinal Rouge Clematis growing up the wall, It is it's first summer and it has been spectacular against the white wall! I am so glad I chose it.

September 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPauline Dwyer

"Then, fellow garden blogger, Eileen, at Gatsby’s Gardens reminded me that training a climbing rose bush was a daunting effort. She cautioned me that the thorns on the branches of the rose climbers might gash a gardener’s skin, even when hands are gloved. Her information was enough to turn me away from rose climbers"

So sad to read about the turn off to the climbing rose. There are a wealth of choices from the old heirloom climbing/rambling cultivars, thornless as well as pliable canes which make for an almost effortless task of pruning in late winter. Along with listening to Eileen, maybe spend some time at Hartwood Roses's blog and possibily do some research of combining some of the heirloom ramblers with clematis. It's a stunning site.
You can weave yourself through the rose blog and find informative information as well as wonderful pictures that Connie Hilker, rosarian, will provide for you.

http://hartwoodroses.blogspot.com/2012_06_01_archive.html

February 13, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPatty

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