Ordering Clematis: Joy Creek Nursery

A Gloomy February Day in Seattle

A Gloomy February Day in Seattle

Weather here in Seattle has continued gray and drab, though day-length is noticably getting longer.  Take a look at the photo I just took from the back deck!   Gloom and doom.  Days like this are best spent armchair gardening (reading gardening books and seed catalogues) or computer gardening (surfing the net for garden ideas or plants to buy).

Personally, I opted to drool over my favorite online mail-order nurseries, especially those that carry oodles of clematis.  I zeroed in on Joy Creek Nursery

Maurice Horn, co-owner of Joy Creek Nursery, is very knowledgable about clematis.  I once had the privilege of hearing him give a fascinating talk about the history of how clematis came into the horticultural world from the wild, including stories of some of the characters who hunted plants and brought them to Europe, and how some of the first hybrids, like Clematis Jackmanii, came into being.  As a result of strong connections to current Japanese clematis hybridizers, Maurice has access to many unusual and beautiful clematis, including little beauties with small bell-shaped flowers.

Joy Creek Nursery

Joy Creek Nursery

One HUGE advantage of Joy Creek Nursery over some of the other mail-order nurseries is that one can actually go there in person as well as order online or via telephone.  The nursery, which  is open seven days a week from March through October, sells hordes of plants and has truly fabulous display gardens where visitors can see how plants grow and combine with each other, including many clematis.  Joy Creek also runs a Sunday lecture series throughout the summer.  They are located in Scapoose, Oregon, on the Columbia River north of Portland. (Photo from Joy Creek Nursery.)

But back to my mail ordering.  The many plants I’ve gotten from Joy Creek over the years, whether mail-ordered or purchased in person, have always grown healthy, strong, and beautiful.  Below are photos of two, Clematis Bijou (a ground cover clematis from British hybridizer Raymond Evison) and Clematis Shizuki (one of the Japanese hybrids with a blue-violet bell crisply outlined in white that blooms all summer in a pot on my deck).   This year, I ordered two more clematis from Joy Creek Nursery–Clematis Kahori no Kimi and Clematis Princess Red.  Both have flowers in the form of pinkish-red nodding bells, and Kahori no Kimi is said to have the additional enhancement of a citris scent.  I notice Princess Red no longer shows up on their website.  Yikes!  I hope they didn’t run out before they put my order through! 

Clematis Shizuki

Clematis Shizuki

Clematis Bijou, a ground-cover clematis

Clematis Bijou, a ground-cover clematis

Ordering Clematis: Silver Star Vinery

Plants under Glass at the Conservatory

Plants under Glass at the Conservatory

Yesterday, after a nice leisurely Sunday breakfast out, my husband and I found ourselves near the Volunteer Park in Seattle with its beautiful old glass conservatory. All the grey foggy days we’ve had around here of late made us hanker for live plants and color, so we stopped by.

Seeing beautiful foliage and lush blooming plants put me in the mood to think about clematis (unfortunatley, there weren’t any in the conservatory).  When I got home I spent some serious time perusing the websites of my three favorite mail-order clematis nurseries in the US and day-dreaming about which new clematis I wanted to grace my garden.  Most years I buy at least a couple of clematis  from each one of these great nurseries.  I know, I know, where will I put them all you ask?!  Don’t worry, I always find a way–I have a big shoehorn just for this purpose. 

Clematis Star of India

Clematis Star of India

Today I will  tell you about Silver Star Vinery, which is located in the foothills of the Cascades near Vancouver, Washington.  This mail-order-only nursery offers a wide variety of well-established, healthy clematis.  Owner, Debbie Fisher, has strong connections with many European hybridizers and imports a few new cultivars almost every year.   Her big healthy plants tend to get going quickly.   Before she ships, she usually sends her customers an email telling them to go dig the holes cuz she’s heading to the post office!  I bought Clematis Star of India from her last spring and by July this saftig young plant had at least 25 beautiful flowers on it — and I’d had it less that six months!  Check out my photo.

So, after looking, and thinking, and making lists, and looking some more, I placed an order yesterday with Silver Star Vinery — below as a little teaser are just two of them.  (Please note:  I have permission from Silver Star Vinery to use photos from its website in my blog.)

Check back in a couple of days — I’ll tell you about Joy Creek Nursery and what I ordered from there.

Clematis crispa, a sweet little fragrant bell!

Clematis crispa, a sweet little fragrant bell!

A new Jackmannii -- Jackmanii purpurea.  Debbie says it's VERY floriferous!

A new Jackmannii — Jackmanii purpurea. Debbie says it’s VERY floriferous!

Buying Clematis in Autumn

Autumn is a GREAT time to buy clematis!  Not only do many nurseries offer the last of their raggedy-looking but healthy clematis at great discounts, but also fall is an ideal time to plant clematis in the Pacific Northwest.  

Choosing a Clematis Variety

If you have a smart phone, the easiest way to pick out which available clematis variety you want is to google Clematis on the Web, a fabulous website with photos and detailed information on thousands of clematis.   Not only can you see what the flower will look like, but you can also find out when it blooms, how big it gets, how hardy it is, and much much more.  If you don’t have a smart phone, write down the names of some of the clematis available at the nursery and check them out on your home computer before buying (I know, I know, that means two trips to the nursery–how much of a hardship is that?).

Choosing a Specific Plant

Now that you know which variety you want, check to see if there are multiple pots of that variety.  If so, look carefully to see how many stems (or vines) there are at or near the base of the plant.  The more stems the better! A plant with multiple stems will generally be a much healthier plant over the long haul.  Check the two photos recently taken at a local nursery–the one at the top of the page has three stems; the one below only one.  Buy the multi-stemmed plant!

Upcoming Topics:  Planting tips; October-blooming clematis; harvesting seedheads–so check back!

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