LauraWatson-HeadshotHello, 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.  As I have time, I will post about what I’m doing with clematis in my Seattle garden, be it pruning, buying, planting, starting seeds, perusing online and hard-copy catalogs, 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-nineties, 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 with C. ‘Madame Julia Correvon’ as a charming backdrop.


  1. Ingrid said,

    October 29, 2012 at 3:14 am

    HI Laura,

    I love your blog


  2. October 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    Very useful blog. Keep up the good work.


  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?

    Donna Sorensen


    • 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!


  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.



  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.


    • 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.



  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?
    Pat Rytkonen


    • 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.



  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.


    • 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!


  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


    • 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.



  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


    • 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.



      • 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.



  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).


    • 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.


      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


    • 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!



  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?


    • 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.



  13. Peg Larson said,

    April 7, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    Hello Laura, I hope you can help me…I bought a shogun clematis 5 or 6 years ago……I can not find any information about this clematis..the plant arrived sickly and I thought it had died..but after many months it started to grow..it still is not a strong plant…last year she did bloom…what a bloom it was, I would love your information……….Thanks Peg


  14. Nancy Dunis said,

    May 8, 2018 at 11:16 am

    11th Annual Inviting Vines Garden Tour Sat May 26, 2018 sponsored by Friends of the Rogerson Clematis Collection in Piortland, OR. The Collection will be open for viewing as well as 4 local gardens all featuring clematis.

    Featured guest speakers: breakfast and lecture w/ Lucy Hardiman;
    afternoon tea and lecture with curator Linda Beutler.

    INFO AND DETAILS: 971.777.4394
    TO PURCHASE TICKETS: http://www.rogersonclematiscollection.org
    COST: $50 for tour AND lectures….$25 tour only


  15. Chris K said,

    August 21, 2018 at 6:29 am

    Thank you for your blog! I recently relocated to Western Washington from California and am getting used to 4 seasons. When is the best time of year to plant clematis?


    • November 27, 2018 at 11:00 pm

      Hi, Chris,

      The best time to plant clematis here in the Pacific Northwest is either fall (November is a great time to do it!) or spring–fall is preferable if possible because the plants have more time to settle in and do their underground work before they have to face our summer drought.


  16. Dana Knickerbocker said,

    February 27, 2020 at 9:29 pm

    What are your thoughts on Clematis reticulata?


    • February 28, 2020 at 7:57 am

      Hi, Dana,

      Clematis reticulata is one of the charming bell-shaped clematis species from the American southeast. The blossoms are usually pink–sometimes red–and the sepals recurve nicely. Sadly I don’t have this one , yet anyway, so I can’t give you first-hand knowledge on how to grow it. It can be hard to find for purchase. You might do better is you search for seed.


  17. Naveen Vijayvergiya said,

    May 10, 2020 at 6:12 pm

    Hey Laura,

    Naveen here. I bought two Clemantis Asao and planted them in soil vs keeping them in container hoping they will trail on my garage ends.

    Now after reading I am worried that I should have only potted them in container and not in ground and I might have wasted the plant and all the effort I put it.

    Any advice?


    • May 10, 2020 at 10:07 pm

      Hi, Naveen,

      Also looks great planted in the ground! This beautiful Japanese hybrid is relatively short (6-8′), meaning that it is short enough to grow in a pot, at least for a few years. But that doesn’t at all mean that it must grow in a pot! I also have two Asao’s and grow one on the ground and one in a pot–both are lovely!



  18. May 15, 2020 at 8:58 pm

    Do you give tours of your garden? I’ve become a clematis lover and would love to see more in true living color and growing into bushes as mine do. I have 2 lots in West Seattle given over to ornamentals growing in a tapestry style. Found your site looking up C. Will Barron which I’m interested in possibly getting but would like to see it growing. Member of NPA & NHS.


    • May 15, 2020 at 10:42 pm

      Hi, Laurel,

      Yes, I do give tours of my garden, but because of Covid-19 I doubt I’ll have visitors any time soon. I loved my C. Will Baron but sadly I lost it last year unexpectedly after 15 years’ worth of pleasure. It’s a beautiful clematis!


      • Kathy in Alki said,

        May 16, 2020 at 10:44 am

        Hi, Laura, four years ago I planted a C. crispa between our fish pond and our fence, burying it in it’s pot to keep it moist. It has struggled there next to a bamboo that is becoming invasive. Even though it was next to a pond, it was just too dry back there, sheltered from the rain and hard to get reach it to water. I am going to hire someone to rid me of my invasive bamboo, so I had to move C. crispa. I had just decommissioned my deteriorating plastic compost bin, so I planted C. crispa there, then noticed it was one foot from the business end of a downspout. I have read that this plant is one clematis that doesn’t mind wet feet, so hopefully it will do well there. I removed it from the pot and was able to salvage about a foot and a half of the taproot. The end of the taproot broke off, unfortunately.


  19. Kathy in Alki said,

    May 16, 2020 at 10:52 am

    I am still waiting to see C. “Princess Kate” in the flesh. The one I planted in 2017 never bloomed and petered out. I gave up on it and got another one this spring from Dan Long. It is looking good and has a couple of fat buds, yeah! I am finding everything is a little later blooming this year. I have about 8 newly planted, many of which I got from the conference last year. Excited to see how they look in bloom.


    • May 19, 2020 at 1:15 pm

      Princess Kate is a lovely clematis that I find to be floriferous, long-blooming, and easy to grow! You will LOVE it!


  20. Kim Hanks said,

    January 23, 2021 at 6:47 pm

    Is the double Tartu available to buy? I’d be very interested.


  21. January 23, 2021 at 7:11 pm

    Hi, again, Kim.

    I’m sorry — I accidentally hit send too soon

    To answer your question, Brushwood Nursery, an online source for clematis, offers Tartu, though they may be sold out at the moment. If so, you can get on the waiting list for it.

    This clematis can produce single, semi-double, and double flowers. The doubles usually occur in the spring and the singles in the fall. If you live in a cold climate (like Zone 4 or lower) and you have to cut all your clematis back hard in the spring, you may not get doubles.


  22. Laurel Harrington said,

    May 25, 2021 at 7:04 pm

    Well it’s a year later and many of us are now vaccinated since I last contacted you. I’d still love to visit your garden in June to see your clematis in action with other shrubs and plants. I just bought 7 new clematis at Rogerson Clematis garden, though I had originally contacted them to buy the evergreen variegated clematis fasciculiflora only. Isn’t that always the way. My 2 ornamental garden lots are burgeoning with roses, peonies, shrubs, and the start of out of control clematis blooming. I’m always ready to share it and exchange ideas and experiences.

    West Seattle


    • May 25, 2021 at 7:59 pm

      Hi, Laurel,

      So nice to hear from you again! You are welcome to visit my garden next month! I am thrilled to be fully vaccinated now and I s6spect tou are, too.

      8n5eres5int that you just visited the Rogerson Clematis Collection as my husbamd and I will be there thia weekend for a plant sale.


      • May 25, 2021 at 8:02 pm

        Oops the previous email went out before I was ready! Sorry for the typos I didn’t get a chance to fix!!

        Anyway, contact me at lbwlss@comcast.net to make arrangements.



  23. Carol Lindlow said,

    November 2, 2021 at 1:49 pm

    I’d love to see your clematis plants. I just purchased clematis cartmanii. How do I care for it? Thanks Carol Lindlow Mountlake terrace.


    • November 6, 2021 at 11:40 am

      Hi, Carol,

      Clematis cartmanii has several cultivars (Avalanche, Early Sensation, Joe, Pixie). They all hail from New Zealand and have small dark-green wavy evergreen leaves and lovely small flowers in white or cream that bloom in early spring. These plants are so floriferous, in fact, that the blossoms can completely cover the foliage. They range in height between 12’ (Avalanche) and 2’ (Pixie). They need full sun, excellent drainage, and protection from very cold weather. They are said to be hardy to 10F (Zone 8), but I have lost three of them over the years in my Zone 8 garden to cold wet winters. You might have better luck than me if you plant yours in a container that can be brought into a greenhouse or garage on cold nights.

      Contact me via a comment to this blog in spring or summer and we can arrange a visit.



Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

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

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: