And the Winner Is . . .

Blue Dancer! 

Blue Dancer

Blue Dancer

Yes, the first of my Clematis alpinas to blossom this year is Clematis Blue Dancer, with its profusion of  long luscious light-blue petals.  Some of the runners-up may bloom tomorrow.   Like Opening Day at Fenway Park (don’t forget, I was a Bostonian for many a year), the first alpina marks the start of the clematis season for me.   Bring it on! 

Drip Irrigation 

As you probably know, clematis are by and large NOT drought tolerant plants.  Believe it or not, this can be a serious problem in the Seattle area.  “What?” you say.  “But Seattle is Rain City!”  If you don’t live around here, you may not realize that Seattle can be dry as a bone in July and August.  Last summer we had NO rain whatsover from mid-July through most of September.  Not a drop.  Very trying on clematis–as well as the person who has to water them.  Only a very few parts of the world have this dry summer, wet winter weather phenomena–the Pacific Northwest, Chili, New Zealand, South Africa, and the Mediterranean.  The up side is that we can easily grow many exotic specimens from these plant-rich parts of the world–Grevillea, Azara, Chilian Fire Tree, Euchryphia, Cistus, Hebe, Lavender, and Ceonothus, just to name a few. 

My garden is watered in summer by a soaker hose system that is adequate for most of my plants.  All the clematis, however, whine all summer long.  Several times during a typical dry spell, I am forced to go around the garden with the hose and stand at a each clematis for at least five minutes–very time consuming if you have 130 or 140 clematis!  To solve the problem, my friend and professional gardener Sean is helping me to install a drip system JUST for my clematis.  Oh, and for my pots and window boxes, too.  Then I can spend the dog days of summer sitting in the shade reading a novel and admiring all the blossoms!  Ahhhhh.

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