Spring Is in the Air in Seattle!

The calendar may say winter, but spring is springing today here in Seattle! Sarcococca is blooming by my front steps wafting a wonderful fragrance for anyone passing in and out of the house. I have seen witch hazel and early cherries in bloom and big buds on a Clematis armandii I passed by the other day. And the Northwest Flower & Garden Show opens in less than a month! But better than that, I have two (count ’em, TWO) clematis in bloom.

Clematis napaulensis

cnapaulensisThis unusual clematis from Nepal is wintergreen rather than evergreen.  In summer the plant just looks like dead sticks.  But in October (here in Seattle), it puts on fresh new apple-green leaves and then, in January and February, shows off it’s lovely small flowers blooming in pairs. The creamy white tepals curl around the very long purple stamens, making for a welcome site in winter! The blooms are said to have the added bonus of fragrance, but mine are blooming on an arbor, too high up for me to check.

This is the first year mine has bloomed after being in the ground for four years! I was afraid I had planted it in too much shade and would never have blooms unless I moved it. I was sooooo excited when I spotted them the other day.

Clematis cirrhosa var purpurescens ‘Freckles’

cfrecklesThis delightful clematis, which puts out lightly fragrant blooms with creamy outer tepals and burgundy freckles on the inside, blooms reliably for me now throughout the winter. But for years it only bloomed in March and/or July, for Pete’s sake.

Puzzled by this unexpected behavior in a winter-blooming plant, I asked a clematarian friend about it. His response was to ask me whether I fertilize it in fall, since it will bloom in winter! Well, duh, no, I didn’t–makes sense, though. So now I make sure to put down a layer of compost rich in manure in the garden every November or December, in addition to my regular spring fertilizing routine.

ALL my plants seem to enjoy this early compost! And now Clematis cirrhosa var purpurescens ‘Freckles’ blooms for me off and on all the time, but especially in the winter!

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