About

FlowerShowPhotoHello, 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 since the mid-ninties, first in my Boston garden where I left behind 50 clematis, and since 2005 in Seattle where I currently have 145 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 at the Flower and Garden Show, garden clubs, nurseries, and other venues throughout Greater Seattle.  I am a member of the International Clematis Society, the British Clematis Society, and 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 C. “Madame Julia Correvon’ as a charming backdrop.

23 Comments

  1. Ingrid said,

    October 29, 2012 at 3:14 am

    HI Laura,

    I love your blog
    //Ingrid

    Like

  2. October 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Very useful blog. Keep up the good work.

    Like

  3. Donna Sorensen said,

    February 2, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    I was just reading about a new clematis, “Serious Black”, Clematis recta ‘Lime Close’ in the April 2013 issue of Fine Gardening magazine. It lists the Northwest Perennial Alliance in Gig Harbor, WA, as the lone source. After a call to NPA, who it turns out really isn’t a source, I was referred to you. I think this plant sounds like something I just really need. Can you possibly steer me to a real source?

    Thanks,
    Donna Sorensen

    Like

    • February 2, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      Hi, Donna,

      I, too, was puzzled when I noticed that the recent Fine Gardening mention of Clematis recta ‘Lime Close’ (aka Serious Black Clematis) identified the Northwest Perennial Alliance as a source. After checking my own sources for clematis, I found that this clematis does not seem to be readily available in the US. According to Clematis on the Web (a wonderful site for information about thousands of clematis), “The stems and leaves are purple and fade only very slowly. The leaves are a darker colour than those of recta ‘Purpurea’. The original plant was acquired as recta ‘Purpurea’ and grown by Miss C Christie-Miller at ‘Lime Close’, her garden in Oxfordshire, UK.”

      Apparently, Serious Black has not made it across the pond in enough numbers yet for selling. But Clematis recta ‘Purpurea” is available–I have it myself and love it. While not quite as dark as Serious Black, Purpurea has strikingly rich dark purple leaves in spring and summer, then blooms with white starry fragrant flowers. It really is a lovely plant and might just tide you over until Serious Black makes the scene in this part of the world.

      Clematis recta ‘Purpurea’ is currently available at Joy Creek Nursery in Oregon, where you can mail order it. It is also available at T&L Nursery, a wholesale nursery over in Redmond — just in case you have a friend in the business who could take you shopping there. If you do find a US source for Serious Black, let me know!

      Like

  4. Donna Sorensen said,

    February 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Thanks so much for the info. I’ll take a run up to Redmond to check ‘Purpurea’ out.

    Donna

    Like

  5. Marilyn Dapses said,

    April 10, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Dear Laura: I so enjoyed your presentation today at our NPA neighborhood group. I’ll be working my husband over to let me prune our humungous purple clematis. Before I get the sign-off to whack away, I am wondering if you would like a picture of it for your slide show as an example of what the plant looks like if you don’t prune it.

    Like

    • April 10, 2013 at 9:30 pm

      Thank you, Marilyn. Yours is a fun group with lots of questions and comments — I love that!

      And, yes, please send me a photo of your overgrown humungous clematis. I can use the photo to graphically demonstrate the advantages of cutting the high-summer-blooming clematis (Pruning Group C) back hard.

      Laura

      Like

  6. Pat Rytkonen said,

    August 22, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Hi Laura,
    Dan Hinkley offered Clematis recta ‘Serious Black’ at his original Heronswood nursery, according to its 2005 catalog. I bought my plant then and have it planted in my “black and burgundy” bed. I believe I’ve seen it for sale at the NPA spring sale.

    I enjoyed your presentation to the NPA group and have a question for you. Following your talk, I purchased a Clematis otophora from Far Reaches Farm. Since you’ve grown yours for a year now, are you pruning it as an A, B, or C? You also recommended cutting back a newly planted clematis to 12 inches. Do you think I should do it for this one as well?
    Thanks,
    Pat Rytkonen

    Like

    • August 23, 2013 at 11:50 am

      Hi, Pat,

      I wish I had purchased one of Dan’s Clematis recta ‘Serious Black.’ The one I purchased at the Flower and Garden Show last winter never really blacked up. Of course, it was bare root and has only grown for me for a few months, but mine is not exhibiting much blackness so far. The proof will be in the pudding next year, no doubt. I know NPA occasionally sells seedlings of this plant; perhaps they sell divisions sometimes, too. A division or a rooted cutting is what to buy if you truly want Clematis recta ‘Serious Black.’

      Glad you enjoyed the talk and were inspired to buy Clematis otophora! Mine bloomed beautifully for me last fall (late for C. otophora, which is listed in Clematis on the Web and other sources as a July-August bloomer), survived the winter, and succombed sometime in the spring. I have no idea why it died–it grew in a spot with good drainage and part sun, which are said to be conditions it likes. I have since purchased another and, being gun-shy now, will grow it on in a larger pot for at least a year.

      But to answer your question, yes, cut it back to one or two feet now if you plan to leave it in a pot or, if you plan to plant it in the ground, cut it back then; then you won’t have to cut it back again til the following year. This encourages the plant to do the underground work it needs to do over the winter and spring. Being a July-August bloomer (normally), this plant is pruning group C and should be cut back hard every year, which in Seattle’s climate can be done any time between late fall and early spring. In colder climates, I recommend waiting til early spring.

      Laura

      Like

  7. Kathy Dunn said,

    November 13, 2013 at 12:40 pm

    Hi, Laura, I met you at Debbie’s Open Day at Silver Star Vinery in July. I was so pleased that the Tie Dye that I bought from her finally bloomed around 20 October. Especially since I had to go work out of town for two months and was unsure if the 15 new clematis I planted last season would survive my absence.

    I love your photo of the Viorna with the Beauty Berry. I picked up a Beauty Berry at Swanson’s last weekend but not sure if i will succeed in coordinating it with a clematis as you did.

    Kathy Dunn, Alki.

    Like

    • November 13, 2013 at 5:15 pm

      Thanks, Kathy, for commenting on my blog. I remember talking with you at Debbie’s Open. Hopefully, all your clematis survived – I knew you were a budding clemaniac!

      Like

  8. March 15, 2014 at 10:01 am

    I am new to Seattle.
    Will a clematis bloom the first season it is planted? Thank you, Sherry

    Like

    • March 15, 2014 at 6:08 pm

      Hi, Sherry,

      Welcome to Seattle!

      Whether a clematis will bloom the first season it’s planted depends to a great degree how mature the plant is. Some clematis come to us in small pots (4-6″) and are only a year or two old. These may not bloom the first year. But if you get a well established mature plant in at least a gallon pot (bigger is better), it is likely to be three or four years old, giving you a good chance of having at least some blooms the first year. By and large, though, most clematis take at least three years to give a really good show of blooms.

      Laura

      Like

  9. Darlene Barnes said,

    May 15, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Hi. I love your blog. I’m looking for a pixie clematis. Plant or seed. Do you know where I can find these? I live in washington state. I could find them last year but this year I cannot I lost the two I had due to my greenhouse malfunctioning any help you could give me would be greatly appreciated thank you darling

    Like

    • May 15, 2014 at 2:16 pm

      Thank you, Darlene! Hmmm, I usually see Clematis Pixie for sale at Sky Nursery each year, but I’m not certain they have it this year. I will be speaking on clematis at Sky Nursery tomorrow (Saturday, May 17, 1pm), so I’ll check and let you know for sure. For those who aren’t familiar with it, Clematis Pixie is a small and delightfully fragrant New Zealand clematis in the same family as C. Early Sensation and C. Avalanche. All have lovely and welcome greenish-white blossoms every early, March I think. This past winter here in Seattle seems to have been hard on many of the New Zealand clems — both my C. Avalanche and C. Pixie had serious dieback this year, but are starting to recover now.

      Laura

      Like

      • May 19, 2014 at 11:11 am

        Hi, again, Darlene,

        I did not see Clematis Pixie at Sky Nursery yesterday. I will keep my eyes open, though, and let you know if I see one for sale anywhere.

        Laura

        Like

  10. schsfa said,

    March 21, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Good Spring Laura: I adopted an unnamed, bedraggled and very small clematis at the end of market season (from KMart of all places) about 20 years ago that became a wonderful favorite plant in my garden. It is a very early bloomer (early April) of blue pendulous flowers in my zone 4 garden in Montana. Later, it has seed plumes very like wild clematis. The nearest I have come to ID it from photos on your website. It is very like Pauline or Blue Dancer. Can you give me clues to identifying it further? Much appreciated. (I will photograph it when it blooms).

    Like

    • March 23, 2015 at 6:29 pm

      Hi, Montana,

      Sounds as though you have a blue Clematis alpina–both Clematis ‘Blue Dancer’ and Clematis ‘Pauline’ are alpinas. There are many more like C. ‘Bluebird’ and C. ‘Cecile’ for example. I love C. alpinas with their lovely bells and delicate foliage in spring. If you send me a photo when yours blooms next month, I might be able to identify it for you.

      Laura

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Patrick said,

    February 19, 2016 at 5:20 am

    Hi Laura,
    This will be my first year growing Clematis – 5 of them ! 3 will be planted in Stone Urns, and 2 will be planted in the ground. I’ve chosen C. Jackmanii, C. Josephine, C. Rosemoor, C. Hagley Hybrid, and C. Rouge Cardinal. Only Jackmanii and Rouge Cardinal will be planted in the ground. I see you have some Clematis planted in pots. Do you ever discuss growing Clematis in pots ?

    ~ Patrick

    Like

    • February 19, 2016 at 11:30 am

      Just a couple more clems, Patrick, and you’ll be a budding clemaniac! You’ve chosen excellent clematis and you’ve chosen the right ones to plant in the ground because they are so big (Jackmanii and Rouge Cardinal).

      I recently prepared a new PowerPoint presentation for the
      Northwest Flower & Garden Show in Seattle, called Growing Clematis in Small Spaces, which includes information about growing clematis in containers. I’ll be giving that talk tonight (2/19) at 6:45pm at the Flower Show in Seattle.

      Thank you for the suggestion to write a blog about growing clematis in containers. Stay posted–I will do that soon!

      Laura

      Like

  12. Jacobo Jimenez said,

    April 26, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Hello and thank you for posting this blog, I also am a clematis lover maybe not quite on your level but still very much a huge fan. I was wondering if you ever host tours of your garden? I would love to join on to see how you manage this many vines in and around the rest of your landscape. I Also live in the area and was wondering if you know of any local sources for C. Rooguchi?

    Like

    • May 2, 2016 at 3:06 pm

      Hi, Jacobo,

      I’m always glad to hear from another clematis fan! Garden clubs and other groups sometimes request to visit the garden–I always try to make it work because I so enjoy talking with other gardeners. Anyone who wishes to visit the garden can contact me in one of the two ways below:

      Email me through Great Garden Speakers: http://greatgardenspeakers.com/results.php?keyword=watson&template_id=

      Comment on the blog somewhere and include your email address. I will not publish that comment, so your email address with NOT go viral!

      About Clematis Rooguchi, I believe that I have seen it for sale at Swansons, Sky, and Molbaks! If you can’t find it, you can mail-order it from Brushwood Nursery (www.gardenvines.com). I’m sure you will find one–it’s a beautiful clematis, though somewhat prone to powdery mildew, so plant it where it will get plenty of air. Also, note that it does not climb or cling (in case you don’t know that already), so be ready either to support it or to allow it to lounge about on other plants or on the ground.

      And, Jacobo, get in touch with me as noted above and we’ll work out a visit to the garden.

      Laura

      Like


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