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Entries in Clematis (2)


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.


Comtesse de Bouchard: a Pink Flowering Vine for the Perennial Garden

Problem solving is an exciting aspect of perennial gardening. When my neighbor installed a swimming pool last season, municipal by-laws compelled him to secure his back yard. He chose to surround his property with a beige-colored vinyl mesh fence. My challenge was to camouflage that portion of the fence that divided our two properties.

The  plan was to cover the fence with flowering vines. I began the project by planting bluish-purple Clematis Durandii, purple-blue Clematis Jackmanii and vivid mauve-blue Clematis Elsa Spath.

This selection established a richly colored background to showcase perennials that would ultimately grow in front of the vines. Once the blue-purple theme was in place, I found an on-line supplier from whom I was able to purchase 2 unusual flowering vines: Schizophragma hydrangeoides Moonlight, with white flowers and Schizophragma hydrangeoides Rosea, blooming in pink. These arrived by mail, rather small in size, grew very little and did not bloom this first season. However the Clematis vines were mature when I bought them and they bloomed impressively.

The Clematis are happy in their location because the upper portions get sun and the roots are shaded by the perennials. Now that I see how well they have grown here, I am ready to kick it up a notch, so to speak. Next spring I plan to insert cyclamen-pink Clematis Comtesse de Bouchard between the purple-blue Clematis to create additional color drama. I understand that the pink petals might fade in the afternoon sun. I’ll take that chance. I have 40 feet of fence to cover and experimenting will be fun.

Comtesse de Bouchard belongs to that class of vines that needs trimming in the spring because it blooms on new growth. The truth is that I have never trimmed Clematis in the past. I want the vines of the previous season to act as supports for the following year’s growth; in winter, these now-brown bushy vines offer textural interest to the garden as well. Some gardeners report that Comtesse needs hard pruning. I wonder if it’s because the dense and heavy vines threaten the integrity of their support structures.

This pink Clematis was chosen because it is one of the most popular vines of its species. It produces flowers 5 inch wide. The petals, the texture of crêpe paper, appear to smother the vine in pink. It blooms from midsummer until early fall, in sun to part shade; it is hardy in zones 4 to 9 and can reach a height of anywhere from 6 to 12 feet. Some growers even report success growing this cultivar in full shade.

Because it is dense and heavy, it needs a strong structure for climbing. Trellises made of light-weight wood are too weak. A sturdy fence, an arbor or a pergola are all ideal supports. Like most Clematis, it will require help to establish itself upright for the first few years. Then, the previous season’s vines will trap some of the upward reaching new growth. The gardener will only have to assist part of the vine to climb. I am fortunate that my neighbor sunk his fence posts into reinforced concrete for strength and chose vinyl wire mesh fencing. The wires eliminate the need for cord or stakes to support my vines. All I need to do is to insert a petiole into the mesh. By naturaly twining itself around the wire, the petiole will keep the vine growing in an upright direction.