Clematis in Seattle!


Hello, I’m Laura and I’m a clemaniac.  I love to blather on about all the varied blossom colors, flower shapes, bloom times, well, basically all aspects of the beautiful genus, clematis, The Queen of Climbers.  Every week or two I will post about what I’m doing with clematis in my Seattle garden, be it pruning, buying, planting, starting seeds, perusing online and hardcopy catalogues, studying, visiting clematis in other gardens (as well as my own), dealing with diseases, and whatever else I run into about clematis. 

 I have been growing clematis for over 20 years, first in my Boston garden where I left behind 50 clematis, and since 2005 in Seattle where I currently have 130 clematis, and counting.  I grow them everywhere—in trees and shrubs, scrambling over perennials, and on fences, trellises, and arbors.  I enjoy sharing my clematis knowledge with others and frequently present PowerPoint talks on clematis to garden clubs, nurseries, and other venues throughout Greater Seattle.  I am a member of the International Clematis Society, the British Clematis Society, and the Friends of the Rogerson Clematis Collection (in Portland, Oregon).  I was privileged to attend the 2010 and 2011 International Clematis Society Conferences in Portland and Belgium, respectively, and plan to go to the 2013 conference in Germany in June.  Doesn’t that sound like a clemaniac to you?

Hope you’ll stop by now and then and check out what I’m doing!

Here’s the lovely white Clematis Huldine showing off in my garden in July with Clematis Madame Julia Correvon as a charming backdrop.


  1. Nancy said,

    October 19, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    Perhaps you could share some easy easy ideas for support for those of us who can’t spend a lot of time fiddling and twiddling?


    • October 20, 2012 at 11:23 am

      Hi, Nancy,

      The easiest way to grow a clematis without having to fiddle with it during the growing season is to grow it through a shrub. If possible, plant the clematis on the north side of the shrub so that it grows through the shrub to the sunlight. You have to be careful to match the size of the clematis with the size of the plant though. For example, don’t plant a 20′ Clematis montana on a Baggeson gold honeysuckle, but you could plant a clematis that gets only about 6-10′ tall there. You will also want to plan for contrast between the flower color and the color of the shrub.



  2. Katie said,

    November 9, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    What a fabulous blog! Thank you for doing this.


  3. Kathy Juracek said,

    November 14, 2012 at 12:59 am

    I love Clematis and what’s more love your blog!


    • November 14, 2012 at 9:31 am

      Thanks, Kathy. As you can see, I love clematis, too. Smile. FYI, the topic of my next post, coming soon, will be Collecting and Saving Clematis Seed.”


  4. Sandy Kanaga said,

    December 6, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Hello, Laura Watson – you have been recommended to teach a class
    for members of the NW Perennial Alliance here in Seattle. I’d like to
    talk to you on the phone and find out more about you and what is apparently your pretty fabulous garden. Please email me below
    to start the conversation. Thanks so much – Sandy kanaga


  5. Betsy said,

    January 8, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Enjoyed reading your blog…I’m a clematis lover too; but not so much as you! I have only a few clems surviving the 9a zone here in deep south Texas. I would love to get more of these beauties but I have not seen them in two years (Lowe’s, HD, and Wal-M). Wish I had grabbed some more…


    • January 9, 2013 at 9:59 am

      Hmmm, sorry you are having a difficult time finding clematis down in your neck of the woods. But stay tuned — I will highlight the three great mail-order nurseries with great clematis in the next month or so!



  6. June 3, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    I’ve been obsessing as a friend told me today over clematis…again coming back around after 20 odd years. And found your site today, been cruzin’ the internet making a list for past wk or so. My questions is about “true blue’ like sky blue, Gentian True Blue, Forget-Me-Not, Himalayan Blue Poppy-Meconopsis. Most I’m finding available are actually an off white or a blueish violet. Just wondering if there are any truly “Blue” flowered clematis? There are several really desirable clematis on my list, but keep looking for the illusive BLUE.
    Love your site, hope to hear from you et al, for suggestions.


    • June 4, 2013 at 9:00 am

      Hi, Charlene,

      Thank you for reading my blog! I, too, obsess over clematis (in case you hadn’t noticed).

      You pose a difficult question when you ask about truely blue clematis. As you probably know, gardeners tend to have a loose eye when identifying blue flowers (because there are so few really blue ones) — freely describing many shades of blue-violet as blue. The flowers you name are some of the few that are actually blue. With clematis we have the same problem. Just to make things more complicated, vagaries of weather and soil can change colors, so that what is blue in one garden or in a particular year may be lavender in another place or time. That said, some of the most blue clematis I have personally seen are: Clematis Multiblue (if not in too much sun, early blossoms are very dark blue — they fade a bit as they age and become a little more lavender (see photo in my last post); Clematis Perle d’Azure (light blue); Clematis Fujimusume (also light blue). Some of the early blooming alpinas are also quite blue, like Clematis Blue Dancer (see photo in an early May posting of mine).

      Readers — any suggestions for other blue clematis?


  7. Joyce Hagen said,

    July 2, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    My clematis has been dark purple since I moved here 6 yrs. ago. This year it is almost white with a tinge of purple. Is this possible?
    Joyce Hagen


    • July 4, 2014 at 8:39 am

      Hi, Joyce,

      Hmmm, that’s an unusual problem. I am not sure what could have caused the blooms on your clematis to change color, but a few possibilities come to mind. Sometimes, especially here in Seattle where we can have several weeks with very little sun, a clematis flower doesn’t get enough sun to color up. But in my experience when this happens the flower is more greenish that whitish. Another possibility is that you have C. venosa violacea (click here to see photos of this clematis on Clematis on the Web: C. venosa violacea is white with purple veining. Sometimes the purple veining covers so much of the flower that the effect is purple. But it’s variable from year to year, depending on sun, soil, rain I guess. A third possibility is that a piece of the root or seed from a second clematis came with the original one and slowly grew to blooming size. Maybe one of these possibilities will ring true to you for your chameleon clematis!



  8. carrie said,

    June 2, 2015 at 12:49 am

    I have had 2 clematis change colour, an ernest markham bloomed beautifully the colour it is supposed to(deep rose pink) for 3 years, then for the last 2 years it has been deep purple(a colour I hate) but haven’t been able to bring myself to remove it! The other one was a Julia carnevon which bloomed its red colour for 2 years then came out deep
    purple the 3rd year-Was so mad I dug it out and gave it to a friend. I don’t have any idea why this keeps happening, but it is extremely
    irritating especially when the colour they change to is ugly to me! I live in southwestern alberta, south of Calgary. Also 1st clem. is south facing beside a nanking cherry tree(bush); the other was west facing with a darts spirea protecting it’s roots. WHY is this happening- any ideas


    • June 9, 2015 at 8:27 am

      Hi, Carrie,

      How frustrating to have this happen to you, twice for Pete’s sake! A friend of mine was irritated when she had a similar occurrence–I believe the cause may be that the original plant came with a stowaway–a small bit of another plant in the pot. Over time rogue plant took over the original plant purchased, thereby causing an apparent color change. If you purchased both plants from the same place, consider trying another vender. Here’s hoping this never happens to you again!



      • carrie said,

        June 10, 2015 at 12:36 am

        I never considered that, very possible as I’ve sometimes bought from bargain places! Do clematis ever cross “breed” with another
        kind of clematis, such as one growing across the street?


      • June 10, 2015 at 8:52 pm

        Yes, Carry, it IS possible that a seedling could have sprouted next to the clematis you bought–then slowing grown into a blooming plant. Another possibility I found when I did a little research–Linda Beutler, curator for the Rogerson Clematis Collection outside of Portland, Oregon, suggests that some hybrids may be unstable and might change their appearance over time. Still, the most likely possibility in my mind is two plants competing in one pot.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: