Clematis atragenes Blooming!

Seattle has been drowning, drenching, and dripping for the past three months. Most days, staying reasonably dry while working in the garden has not been possible. Nevertheless, the garden is burgeoning, and the Clematis atragenes have begun to bloom. These are early spring bloomers have delightful nodding bells in many soft colors and delicate foliage.  Included among the C. atragenes are C. alpinas (usually single), C. macropetalas (usually double), and C. koreanas.

I have sadly lost three of my six atragenes, C. Jacqueline du Pre (a crisp and lovely pink and white alpina), C. Cecile (a delightful blue-purple alpina), and C. Pauline (a richly colored purple macropetala).  Hrmph!  Maurice Horn of Joy Creek Nursery told me that he fears that the warmer weather of recent years in the Pacific Northwest has taken a toll on these cold-hardy plants.  We may start having trouble growing them here.  The three I lost were all against the house; the three I have left are all in the open garden, which is presumably a bit cooler, at least in winter.  I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

Hmm, maybe I should buy more just for testing purposes.

BlueDancer2

In my garden, the first to bloom (as usual) is C. Blue Dancer with its extra long sepals.

MarkhamsPink1

Here’s the luscious and rosy C. Markham’s Pink, just beginning its show.  I also have C. Willy, another pink and white one, but his buds are still tightly closed.

The First Lady–May’s Clematis of the Month

TheFirstLady

So many of the large-flowered clematis in my garden are blooming extremely early this year, as much as six – eight weeks ahead of schedule.  But whenever they choose to bloom, they look wonderful!

During my frequent strolls through the garden, I enjoy observing clematis in all their various stages–and, yes, sometimes I even talk to them.  This spring, Clematis ‘The First Lady’ talked back loudly, showing herself off to great advantage.  I purchased this clematis two or three years ago as Clematis ‘Rhapsody’, a clematis for which I had been hankering for some time.  Once I saw the first meager bloom, I knew I had purchased a misnamed plant.  But not until this year, when the poor clematis had built up enough strength to drag itself up out of the heavy shade of a big Fatshedera into the sunshine, did I really see what a gorgeous flower my mistake clematis produced–large lavender blooms (one flower actually measured 9 inches in diameter!), with contrasting burgundy stamens, ruffled edges, and textual ridges in the middle of each pointed petal.  Elegantissimo!  I was able to identify it as Clematis ‘The First Lady’ and seriously considered deeming this tough and beautiful plant Clematis of the Month for this month.

The First Lady3

Serendipitously, yesterday my yoga teacher described to me a clematis a friend gave her as a cut flower.  She has a fine eye for detail, so I was able to identify her unseen clematis from her description as Clematis ‘The First Lady.’  I showed her a photo on my smart phone to be sure and impressed both her and myself with my quick ID.  That clinched it–Clematis ‘The First Lady’ is Clematis of the Month for May in my garden this year!

 

TheFirstLady2

Clematis ‘The First Lady’ is an American clematis introduced into commerce by Arthur Steffen in Long Island, New York, in 1989.  Mr. Steffen’s company is also responsible for introducing, in 1932, another gorgeous and famous American clematis, now grown throughout the world, Clematis Betty Corning.  The beauty of the name of May’s Clematis of the Month is that you can choose your own favorite First Lady to be represented by this clematis.  I know who mine is!

Below is a smattering of the many other worthy candidates blooming in my garden this month.

LouiseRowe

The satiny blooms of Clematis Louise Rowe

Rebecca

Clematis Rebecca

ClematisRamona&Marta

Clematis Ramona (lavender) with Clematis Marta

Josephine

The ever-stunning Clematis Josephine

Cezanne

Clematis Cezanne

Fireworks

Clematis Fireworks

Utopia

Clematis Utopia

ClematisFugiMusume

Clematis Fujimusume–such a gorgeous blue!

MorningMist

Clematis Morning Mist–one of these blossoms measured 10 inches!

 

Climador

Clematis Climador (also known as Clematis Königskind)

 

Caroline&ViviennePennel

Clematis Caroline (pink) with Clematis Vyvyan Pennell

 

ClematisLordHershall

Clematis Lord Herschell

 

 

Sonnette

The bells of Clematis Sonnette (also known as Clematis Peveril Peach)

CrystalFountain(FairyBlue)

Clematis Crystal Fountain (also known as Clematis Fairy Blue)

April’s Clematis of the Month: Clematis ‘Asao’

Asao

For the third year in a row here in Seattle, we have had the mixed blessing of a mild winter and warm spring–causing most clematis to bloom a full month early!  Except for Clematis montana ‘Vera’, C. ‘Asao’ and all the clematis below would normally bloom for me in late May and  early June, rather than in April.

In my garden, C. ‘Asao’ is the Clematis of the Month for April because of its stalwartness, as well as its beauty.  Since this clematis supposedly blooms on old wood, conventional clematis wisdom says that we should not prune it until spring, and then only lightly.  Well, the problem for me was that I planted C. ‘Asao’ in two large window boxes on either side of the front door.  In winter, they are downright ugly with big crusty, rusty brown leaves .  Yuch.  So a few years ago,  I worked hard to dig them out and replaced them with plants that bloom on new wood and can therefore be cut back in the fall, at least they can be in the Seattle area.   Unfortunately, the two replacements, C. ‘Parisienne’ on one side and C. ‘Justa’ on the other, didn’t stand a chance.  ‘Asao’ may have been down, but not out for the count.  Both specimens slowly came back from a few stray roots I didn’t clear away and crowded out their replacements.  Hrmph.  I ruthlessly cut them back every fall anyway and guess what!  They grow fast and bloom beautifully with single and semi-double flowers right on time–and they do it on new wood!  Go figure.

More April-Blooming Clematis

MontanaVera

Clematis montana ‘Vera’ blooming 40′ up in an 80′ Port Orford Cedar.  Due to scads of April sun, blossoms are nearly white rather than the more usual pink.

 

GuernseyCream

Clematis ‘Guernsey Cream’, always the first large-flowered clematis to show off in my garden, is such a welcome sight after the winter doldrums.

WillBaron

Clematis ‘Will Baron’ invariably follows close on the heels of C. ‘Guernsey Cream’.

 

FairRosamond

Poor Clematis ‘Fair Rosamond’ had to be unceremoniously removed from her climbing structure in March due to a tree fall.  Never fear, no people or pets were harmed, damage was mainly superficial, and insurance covered it all!  In spite of the ill treatment, C. ‘Fair Rosamond’ bloomed  beautifully, draped over a nearby plant and lounging on the ground.  She’ll be returned to her usual spot after she finishes blooming.

Josephine

And then there is the show-stopping Clematis ‘Josephine’.  Her blossoms speak for themselves.

 

Crystal Fountain

Clematis ‘Crystal Fountain’ just opening its first bloom.

Kahori no kimi

First dainty bell on Clematis ‘Kahori no kimi’.

LouiseRowe

Clematis ‘Louise Rowe’ always seems to have a special glow, whether pale lavender or sun-faded white.

purpurea

The fabulous rich purple of the leaves and stems of Clematis recta ‘Purpurea’.  And check out the juicy buds about to burst into tiny white and fragrant flowers.

 

Stay tuned, because many, many clematis buds are swelling, elongating, and titillating my spirits.  I will have more and different beautiful clematis to show soon.

March Clematis of the Month: Clematis macropetala ‘Maidenwell Hall’

MaidenwellHall3

Finally, finally in late March I got my first clematis blossoms of the season!  Whooo hooo!  Four clematis alpinas and macropetalas in my garden have opened their beautiful blooms!  Clematis macropetala Maidenwell Hall gets the prize for March this year because this poor young plant got such a shaky start.   While visiting a nursery north of Seattle in the Skagit Valley in the heat of August, my friends and I found a 90% off table.  Lo and behold, there was a clematis there looking hot, dusty, and bedraggled.  A friend spotted C. Maidenwell Hall first, but she kindly allowed me to purchase the plant.  The plant obviously appreciated coming to a caring home, because it has most definitely perked up.  It’s off to such a good start that I will be able to give my friend some cuttings!  Here’s another shot taken in warm early morning light, which drew out the more purple tones.

MaidenwellHall

Clematis alpinas and macropetalas (also called alpine clematis) are among the first of the clematis clan to bloom in the spring.  Their dainty bells, dangling among the delicate serrated leaves, signal the beginning of the long and continuous slide show of clematis blossoms that lasts into the winter.  Alpine clematis particularly enjoy growing in deciduous shade where they can soak up the warmth on sunny spring days, but later be sheltered from hot summer sun by the tree’s leaves.  These clematis, which grow to about 12-15′ or more, come in blues, purples, lavenders, pinks, and whites and are said to be hardy to Zone 3.  They rarely need pruning (unlike their more unruly late-spring and summer-blooming cousins).  The difference between Clematis alpina and Clematis macropetala is that the alpinas usually have only four tepals, or petals, while the macropetalas are double or semi-double.  Because of much cross-hybridizing, though, sometimes the distinction is a bit hazy.

Below are photos of the other three alpinas and macropetalas blooming in my garden.  Two more, Clematis alpina Willy and Clematis macropetala Cecile, are a bit shy to bloom so far this year.

Here’s Clematis alpina Blue Dancer (a former winner of Clematis of the Month).  It sports particularly long tepals.

Next up, Clematis macropetala Markham’s Pink, one of the most beautiful pink ones.

And finally we have Clematis macropetala Pauline, with rich blue and purple colors.

Clematis of the Month, July 2015 – The Fabulous Texensis Clan

texensis

Clematis texensis, a species clematis from the river banks of Texas.

What a summer we had this year!  Zero rain coupled with excessive heat (at least as far as Seattleites are concerned).  Blech!  I didn’t have the spirit to venture into the garden half the time because so many plants, clematis included, were suffering–in spite of irrigation (as much as I could afford, anyway).

Even so, I managed to take a few photos in my hot and arid Pacific Northwest garden (sounds like an oxymoron!).  The standouts in July turned out to be the heat-loving Clematis texensis clan, including the first flowers from my first-to-bloom C. texensis species (see photo).  The tulip-shaped blossoms in the species range from scarlet to dark pink, with white, red, or yellow coloring on the inside of the petals.  Blooming above C. texensis in this photo are the light blue bells of another species, C. crispa.

In the late 1800s European hybridizers loved the red color and tulip shapes of the blossoms of C. texensis and used it extensively in their hybridizing programs.  More than one clematis expert has told me that almost all red and dark-pink clematis are descended from C. texensis!

Also blooming in my garden in July were two texensis hybrids :  C. Ville de Lyon climbing up a Decaisnea tree (also called Dead Man’s Fingers for it’s steely blue finger-like seed pods) and C. Catherine Clanwilliam.

VilleDeLyon

Clematis Ville de Lyon, a C. texensis progeny originally hybridized in France in the late 1800s.

 

CatherineClanWilliam

Clematis Catherine Clanwilliam, another child of C. texensis, this one hybridized more recently by British hybridizer, Barry Fretwell.

 

Clematis of the Month for June: Clematis Etoile Violette

June Clematis of the Month:   C. Etoile Violette

June Clematis of the Month:
C. Etoile Violette

Seattle’s unusually long warm spring propelled all my clematis, as well as most of my other garden plants, into bloom a full month early this year–starting in March and continuing through April and May.  And then June was no different!  The usual stars in my June garden are early large-flowered clematis like C. Will Baron, C. Fair Rosamond, and C. Guernsey Cream.   But this year they had all put on their show in May and were devoid of blooms in June.

Fortunately, though, there was no dearth of clematis in my June garden–the July bloomers came to the rescue!  An excellent case in point is Clematis of the Month for June, C. Etoile Violette.  This 10-year-old plant, which gracefully drapes itself over and through a dying Italian plum tree in the middle of my garden, had more blooms this year than ever before.  I guesstimated over 1,000 blooms all at one time in mid-June.  Check out the photos below, taken on June 13, of C. Etoile Violette from all sides.

C. Etiole Violette, south side

C. Etiole Violette, South Side

C. Etoile Violette, west side

C. Etoile Violette, West Side

C. Etoile Violette           East Side

C. Etoile Violette, East Side

C. Etoile Violette         North Side

C. Etoile Violette,  North Side

Clematis of the Month for May 2015

May’s Winner

May Winner--Clematis Cezanne adorning an oversized windowbox.

May Winner–Clematis CEZANNE adorning an oversized windowbox.

Choosing just one May winner this year was no easy task because many lovely clematis gracefully embellished my garden throughout the month.  After much consideration, the clematis I chose to take the prize is Clematis CEZANNE, with it’s big cluster of blue(ish) satiny flowers, draped over the edge of my windowbox.  This clematis, bred by clematis hybridizer Raymond Evison as a Patio Clematis, has a smaller root system than most clematis, making it perfect for a pot or, in my case, a large windowbox.  Patio Clematis bloom in several flushes throughout the summer, especially when deadheaded or cut back after each flush dies down.  Pruning is easy–just cut them back hard in late winter (even late fall in milder climates like Seattle).

May’s Runners Up

The runners up in May are no slouches.  Check them out!

The delectable double blossoms of Clematis Josephine

The delectable double blossoms of Clematis JOSEPHINE.

The glamorous Clematis Etiole de Malicorne

The glamorous Clematis Etiole de Malicorne

Already the first blooms of Clematis Etiole Violette, which normally blooms for me late June to early August!

Already the first blooms of Clematis Etoile Violette, which normally blooms for me late June to early August!

Clematis Fair Rosamond gracing a doorway.

Clematis Fair Rosamond gracing a doorway, this year with very strong pink bars, making it appear to favor Clematis Nellie Moser.

Clematis recta purpurea, cascading down from its support and about to open its prolific, though small, and fragrant flowers.

Clematis recta Purpurea, cascading down from its support and about to open its prolific and fragrant small flowers.

Clematis Proteus

Clematis Proteus

Clematis Louise Rowe

Clematis Louise Rowe

Clematis Tartu made a comely comeback after wilting last year!

Clematis Tartu made a comely comeback after wilting last year!

Clematis Omoshiro

A slightly tattered Clematis Omoshiro (oh, those pesky slugs!).

Clematis Utopia, which is similar to Omoshiro above and another lovely clematis I covet, Clematis Fond Memories (no photo here)

Clematis Utopia, similar to Omoshiro above and to another lovely clematis I covet, Clematis Fond Memories (below)

Clematis Fond Memories

Clematis Fond Memories (photo taken by me at the Rogerson Clematis Collection in Lake Oswego, Oregon).  Sadly, this one does not yet grace my own garden.

January 2015 Clematis of the Month

Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’

CcirrhosaFreckles2

CcirrhosaFreckles6One bright sunny day last week, as I poked around in the back garden, I was delighted by several wintry blossoms on C. cirrhosa ‘Freckles.’  This Mediterranean clematis with a delightful scent is said to bloom from October through February.  Mine, however, not being much for following rules, generally prefers blooming in August or March.  I complained about my wayward clematis to a British clematarian friend.  “Do you fertilize it in fall?” he asks.  Well, duh, that makes sense.  For a winter-blooming clematis to do it’s thing in winter, a fertilizer boost in autumn would certainly be helpful.   Of course, I haven’t remembered to do it yet, but I will next fall for sure.

For more information on this winter-bloomer, check out my February 2013 post (see list on the left).  A Dutch blogger has also deemed C. cirrhosa ‘Freckles’ Plant of the Month for January–click here to see the Dutch blog.  Use Google Translate to translate it into English (sort of).

 

CcirrhosaFreckles3CcirrhosaFreckles7

 

 

August Clematis of the Month

Clematis viorna in early August, blooming away.

Clematis viorna in early August, blooming away.

C. viorna still blooming in October, color-coordinating itself with the purple beauty berry.

C. viorna still blooming in October with beauty berry.

August was a difficult month for clematis in Seattle, where we suffered the hottest summer on record, along with very little rain.  OK, OK, so some people loved it — but not me or my clems.  I’m learning the hard way that most clematis do NOT like really hot dry weather.  Many of mine took a snit and slowed down or stopped flowering altogether, AND developed crispy brown or spotted leaves.  Hrmph, not an alluring effect.

But Clematis viorna came through the hot weather like a charm, perhaps because it originates from the summer-hot southeastern US.  This clematis, which began blooming for me in late May or June, continued to sport loads of blossoms and unscathed leaves throughout the month of August, making it my garden’s Clematis of the Month for August.

Purple leaves of C. recta purpurea for the second time.

Purple leaves of C. recta purpurea for the second time.

C. recta purpura, blooming a second time in late August!

C. recta purpura, blooming a second time in late August!

The Challenger

Clematis recta purpurea was a contender this month, even though it was Clematis of the Month for July.  This clematis, which has the most beautiful rich purple foliage in the spring, bloomed wonderfully in June with small fragrant white flowers.  As noted last month, I cut it back to the ground when it finished blooming and quickly got new purple leaves, as expected.  But I did not expect it to bloom again!  Check out it’s second blooming in August!

Problem Clematis

In June and July, I cut back several clematis–hard–for various reasons.  Clematis Vancouver Morning Mist wilted in June for the FOURTH year in a row.  I cut it back to the ground and informed the culprit that my patience was gone.  In the fall, it would be OUTA HERE!  One August morning, I noticed something pink beckoning me over by the entry path.  Good gracious!  It was C. Vancouver Morning Mist opening the first of what turned out to be seven blossoms.  I must have scared the living daylights out of it!  I guess I’ll keep it.

C. Vancouver Morning Mist -- Reprieve!

C. Vancouver Morning Mist — Reprieve!

I was loosing my patience with C. Duchess of Edinburgh, too.  This clematis had one woody stem with no flowers and scorched ugly leaves.  Yuch!  I couldn’t take it.  Even though I might seriously set it back, I chopped it to about six inches.  It’s in a pot with a great-looking, heat-loving Chilean Glory Vine (probably a little crowded in there), so I didn’t miss the clematis much.  Well, to my surprise, C. Duchess of Edinburgh came back FAST with big fresh new leaves — and a bit later with several big fat buds!  The blooms were not double as they are in the spring, but they were lovely large pristine white blooms that looked great with all the greenery.  I wonder if clematis leaves grown in the cool moist spring and early summer in Seattle just aren’t programed to take our hot dry summers.  In my experience (especially this summer)  leaves that come into being in the heat of summer handle hot and dry just fine.

The Duchess Blooms!

The Duchess Blooms!

As mentioned in an earlier post, my young Clematis Tartu (with lovely large ruffled lilac blossoms in spring) succumbed to the wilt just as the first flower bud was ready to open and had to be whacked back to the ground.  Very disappointing, especially since I had it in a new ceramic pot by the patio!  But like C. Vancouver Morning Mist, this one grew back quickly and actually had several blooms in August.  Check it out!

C. Tartu blooms without wilting!

C. Tartu blooms without wilting!

What these three clematis have taught me is that if a clematis wilts, has scorched leaves, or is looking just plain ugly, go ahead and cut it back!  It may well come back and bloom again in the same year.  Some of my clematarian friends (like Debbie Fisher of Silver Star Vinery and Linda Beutler of the Rogerson Clematis Collection) have tried to tell me for years to cut them back at the drop of a hat, but I guess I just needed to see it for myself.

A Few More August Blooms

C. Beauty of Worcester blooming in August instead of spring.

C. Beauty of Worcester blooming in August instead of spring!

Clematis Freckles blooming in July instead of October!

Clematis Freckles blooming in August instead of October!

C. Kermisina blooming as expected--in August.

C. Kermisina blooming as expected–in August.

C. crispa

C. crispa

C. Little Nell (named for the young neighbor of the hybridizer)

Dainty C. Little Nell (named for the young neighbor of the hybridizer)

C. Princess Red

C. Princess Red

July Clematis of the Month: Clematis recta ‘Purpurea’

Gorgeous Plum Purple Leaves in July

Clematis recta ‘Purpurea’ showing off its second growth of plummy purple leaves in July .

Clematis recta ‘Purpurea’ is an upright plant that does not climb (the recta part of its name means erect) .  In my garden, the show starts in April, with the plant pushing fat purple buds up through the earth.  As time passes the buds elongate and stretch up and up.

C. recta purpurea

By early June, C. recta ‘Purpurea’ has reached six feet and begins to open small star-shaped white flowers.

C recta purpurea buds

Later in June it blooms extravagantly with thousands of tiny white flowers that waft a delicious fragrance through the garden.  The weight of the blossoms eventually causes the plant to flop, but oh, so gracefully.  As so often happens with purple-leaved plants, the leaves begin to lose that luscious purple color, but there is a solution!

recta purpurea

The reason this plant earns the status of July Clematis of the Month is that, if cut back to the ground (yes, to the ground!), it will grow a new clutch of purple buds that will quickly stretch out again, this time to about four feet (in my garden, anyway).  See the top photo above.  And now, in the first week of August, my plant even has new flower buds for a second showing of tiny fragrant white stars.  (FYI, the purple structure behind the clematis is my new bee hive.)

rectapurpureaAugust

Clematis recta ‘Purpurea’ is a great plant choice for any garden!

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