Witch Hazels’ in Bloom — Can Spring Be Far Behind?

20140131_162405Witch hazels’ are bursting into bloom all over Seattle, warming my heart and turning my thoughts to spring.  I have so many gardening chores lined up!  General cleanup, adding 25 or 30 new clematis to my drip system, sifting compost, weeding, pruning, and so on and so forth and scooby dooby do dah.  But it’s COLD out there!  I have become such a wimp since moving to Seattle from Boston nearly 10 years ago.  I just CAN’T work in the garden temperatures in the 30s any more.  Of course, in Boston, I couldn’t even consider any serious gardening until late March or April — February and March are statistically the biggest snow months there.  Don’t get me wrong, though, I loved living in Boston.  But I love gardening in Seattle more!  Zone 8-9 instead of Zone 6 and I can garden off and on all year round.  When I first came here, I had no idea what half the plants in the nurseries even were.  Phormium, abelia, enkianthus, choisyea, sarcoccocca–never heard of them.  Hardy fuchsias?  What a concept!

What with flowers blooming and the Northwest Flower & Garden Show just around the corner (February 5 -9), I will have spring fever for sure!

Clematis armandii Already Showing Flower Buds!

Emerging flower buds on Clematis armandii

Emerging flower buds on Clematis armandii

Check out the photo of the flower buds I saw yesterday on a Clematis armandii!  Wooo HOOOO!

Clematis recta Serious Black (aka Clematis recta Lime Close)

Clematis recta 'Purpurea' -- very similar to Clematis recta Serious Black.

Clematis recta ‘Purpurea’ — very similar to Clematis recta Serious Black.

Many thanks to my reader Sarah for letting us know that Wayside Gardens is now offering Clematis recta Serious Black via mail order!  You may remember that last year around this time, there was a big kerfuffle about this wonderful clematis with near-black leaves and small fragrant white flowers in summer. The plant is also known as Clematis recta Lime Close, Lime Close being the name of the garden in England where the plant was originally discovered. A small article in Fine Gardening magazine noted that this plant, a difficult one to find in the US, was available through the Northwest Perennial Alliance (NPA).  Turns out that the plant was available through NPA via seed rather than as a plant.  A short time later, at last year’s Northwest Flower & Garden Show, I discovered and blogged that one of the vendors there was selling bare-root versions of Clematis recta Serious Black. I think some of you were able to score one or two (I certainly did).

If you didn’t get one last year, get yourself one from Wayside Gardens this year!  There are so many ways that black plants can add contrast and depth to a garden. This clematis gets about 4 – 6′ tall.  It doesn’t climb, so it needs support or can be allowed to scramble around and through other plants.  The photo here is of a very similar plant, Clematis recta purpurea.

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