Clematis Serious Black (aka Clematis recta Lime Close)

Clematis recta Serious Black

Clematis recta Serious Black

The recent March/April 2013 issue of Fine Gardening magazine has a small article on page 16 about Clematis Serious Black (also known as Clematis recta Lime Close), in which the Northwest Perennial Alliance (NPA) is erroneousely identified as a source. As NPA is getting requests for the clematis, they asked me if I knew of a source. Update: Turns out that NPA is in fact a source — for the SEED of Clematis Serious Black. Please see comment from Fine Garding below for details about how to obtain the seed. And remember, a seedling does not necessarily look like its parent.

This non-climbing clematis throws 4-6′ vines that either ramble through the garden or require support. Its beauty is in its very dark purple (nearly black) leaves that show off the small starry white summer flowers. After checking my own Clematis sources, I found that Clematis Serious Black 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.”

Clematis recta 'Purpurea' in Bloom

Clematis recta ‘Purpurea’ in Bloom

Apparently, Clematis 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 its leaves are not quite as dark as Serious Black, Purpurea has strikingly rich dark purple leaves in spring and early summer, then blooms with white starry fragrant flowers. It really is a lovely plant and might just tide us 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 in Redmond, Washington.

Trust me — as soon as I can find one, Clematis Serious Black will grace my garden!

NEXT POST: Brushwood Nursery, the last but not least of my three favorite mail-order nurseries for clematis.

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!

Planted 6 More!

Now all my clematis are in the ground! Yippee!  I managed to plant the last six between downpours a few days before Christmas. 

One of them, Clematis Rhapsody, is obviously misnamed.  When I bought it late last spring — the flowers were HUGE and the bloom was a luscious light mauve with a reddish boss.  I simply couldn’t resist. But in the process of planting it the other day, between a dwarf Pieris and a variegated Fatsia along a fence, I looked it up on Clematis on the Web on my smartphone to see what exposure it needed.  Lo and behold, I realized that my plant is certainly NOT Clematis Rhapsody.  The first photo below is of my clematis blooming in its pot last June.  The other photo is the real Clematis Rhapsody–deep purple with a white boss.  Hrmph.  Unfortunately, this problem of misnamed clematis is not an uncommon occurence.   If you can identify my lovely unknown clematis — please let me know!


My Plant that is supposedly C. Rhapsody'

My Plant that is supposedly C.

The Real Clematis Rhapsody

The Real C. ‘Rhapsody’

The other five clematis I recently planted are listed below with links to photos and descriptions on that fabulous website, Clematis on the Web.  This website has incredible information and usually photos of thousands of clematis!  I can spend hours diddling around there.  I also use it when I’m at nurseries to look up a particular clematis.  I can find out how the blooms look, when it will bloom, how to prune it, and lots more.

Clematis The First Lady, an American clematis

Clematis Jan Fopma, a clematis that lounges rather than climbs

Clematis Bagatelle

 Clematis Etoile de Malicorne

Clematis florida sieboldiana, a second one because I love it so much

Now that all my clematis are planted (except for three that are still to small to be planted out), I guess I’ll peruse my favorite mail-order clematis nurseries.  I’ll be telling you more about them later.

Planted Three Clematis (C. ‘Louise Rowe’, C. ‘I Am Lady Q’, and C. alpina ‘Markham’s Pink)

C. alpina 'Markham's Pink'

C. alpina ‘Markham’s Pink’

Events both at home and at work have conspired to give me little time in the past three weeks for contemplating clematis, let alone doing anything with them or writing about them.  Things have let up a bit now, thank goodness.

I did manage to get three of my clematis planted between raindrops, only seven more to go.   (For tips on planting a clematis, click on the Buying and Planting Clematis category on the left.) To learn how to plant a clematis, see my earlier post.)  The first to go in the ground was C. alpina ‘Markham’s Pink.’   It is snugged up to an Azara, a narrow evergreen shrub or small tree with tiny dark green leaves.  I think the two will look stunning together when ‘Markham’s Pink’ blooms in April. 

This clem was hybridized by Ernest Markham, a British clematis enthusiast for more than 35 years in the early half of the twentieth century.  He and his employer and friend, William Robinson, took on many clematis from a prolific French hybridizer, Fransique Morel, when Morel lost interest in clematis.  As a result, we can grow many of Morel’s beautiful clematis today.  Here’s a list of the beautiful Morel clematis I grow–I am sure you will be seeing them in future posts, and perhaps you grow some of them yourself:  ‘Abundance’, ‘Comtesse de Bouchaud’, ‘Etoile Violette’, ‘Gravetye Beauty’, ‘Huldine’, ‘Little Nell’, ‘Madame Julia Correvon’, ‘Minuet’, ‘Perle d’Azur’, ‘Purpurea Plena Elegans’, and ‘Ville de Lyon’. 

C. 'Louise Rowe'

C. ‘Louise Rowe’

Next I tucked a specimen of C. ‘Louise Rowe’ into the ground near both Rosa ‘Jude the Obscure’, a soft yellow David Austin climber, and a Choisea ternata, or Mexican Orange, which is an evergreen shrub with fragrant white flowers in early summer. 

This beautiful clematis sports pale mauve satiny double flowers in spring (May/June), then semi-double and single flowers later.   All three types of blooms can be on the vine at one time.  I’ve hankered for this clematis for some time and can’t wait to see it bloom with the round cabbage form of the yellow rose.  It will also look gorgeous draped over the Choisea.  I’ll be sure to post photos.

C. 'I Am Lady Q'

C. ‘I Am Lady Q’

Seems that I was in a pink-mauve mood when I recently planted clematis.   C. ‘I Am Lady Q’  is a lovely and prolific bloomer with nodding bi-color flowers in white and lavendar that blooms in high summer (July/August).  It was hybridized by Wim Snoeijer of Van Zoest nursery in The Netherlands.  I have the privilege of knowing Wim, who is a prolific producer of great clematis.   I chose to give ‘I Am Lady Q’ a home in a perennial bed in front of my deck where it can frolic with C. ‘Princess Diana’ (pink) and C. ‘Blekitny Aniol’, or ‘Blue Angel’ (light blue).

The weather looks fairly decent this afternoon, so I’d better get out there and dig some holes for all the poor clems still in pots!

Clematis Blooming in November

Believe it or not,  several Clematis are blooming in my November garden.  Sweet Autumn Clematis and Madame Baron Veillard (mentioned in a previous post) are still blooming, though they are both beginning to wind down.  My lovely yellow-belled Clematis otophora (see last post) is also still showing off  its eye-catching blooms.  What a beautiful clematis!

C. ‘Cezanne’

I have a few summer-blooming clematis throwing a late bloom or two.  Among those are Clematis ‘Cezanne’, with a soft mauve-blue flower.  This is one of Raymond Evison’s patio clematis, bred to grow to only 4-6′ tall, be very floriferous, and have a long bloom-time.  C. ‘Cezanne’ blooms in a large window box for me and has several flushes of bloom throughout the summer.  I think this one will be the last for this year.

C. ‘Caroline’

Clematis Caroline is a June bloomer with soft pink flowers.  If you cut these June bloomers back by about 1/3 after their first heavy bloom, many of them (not all) will repeat bloom in the late summer or fall, though usually with smaller flowers.  I cut C. Caroline back about a third in early July and was rewarded with another flush in September.  This bloom is particularly late. 

C. ‘Duchess of Edinburgh’

A double June bloomer, Clematis Duchess of Edinburgh, is also giving me a show in November.  Like C. Caroline, I cut the Duchess back a third in early July and now it’s got two smaller single blooms and two buds.  I hope the buds make it through the cold spell we are expecting (maybe down to the mid thirties tonight — brrrrr). 

I want to show you two more clematis (see photos below).   My young (first year) Clematis Jackmanii on the left has been blooming steadily since early July and still has this one bloom left.  I don’t think I have ever had such a young clematis bloom so heartily in its first year.  But this is the famous C. Jackmanii, the first large-flowered hybrid clematis, which came into being in the late 1850s.  It’s proven itself over time and is, I believe, the most popular clematis ever.  The second clematis below is a new potted C. florida sieboldii.  I like my first one so much that when I saw another recently in a nursery, I snapped it up — and this one is still blooming.

C. florida sieboldii

I was hoping to be able to show you flowers on my November/December bloomers, Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’ and Clematis Cirrhosa ‘Jingle Bells’, but not to be.   They may well be in bloom next month, though, so stay tuned.

Activities I will be engaged in soon (in addition to trying to get 10 more clematis in the ground)  are gathering seeds and cutting a few of the July-August bloomers back hard.

WOW! Species Clematis otophora Blooming in My Garden!

In bud a couple of weeks ago

Last spring I purchased a healthy Clematis otophora, which is said to sport yellow bells,  and planted it to grow on an Acer griseum (paperbark maple).  I know very little about this plant, but it grew  and grew.  Even so, I never expected it to bloom in the first year (first six months, really).  Just a couple of weeks ago I was thrilled to see buds (see photo), but I wasn’t sure whether they’d have time open before frost.  

Then on Saturday I found blooms — the most lovely yellow bells!  See photo below.  There seems to be very little information about this rare clematis from the mountains of Sichuan in China.  I am hoping against hope that it is hardy here in the Pacific Northwest because it looks so happy, I simply can’t bear to move it. 

Beautiful Yellow Bells

Clematis otophora was sold to me by Far Reaches Farm in Port Townsend, Washington.  We here in the Northwest are fortunate to have this nursery because the enthusiastic proprieters, Kelly Dodson and Sue Milliken, are plant nerds extraordinaire and thoughtful plant explorers.   In fact, they are on a plant exploration right now, in China, I believe.  You can visit Far Reaches Farm online at: .  They offer many plants via mail order and have special open days for visiting the nursery.  They specialize in unusual plants, including a few rare clematis.  For example, this August when I visited the nursery in person, I was able to buy two additional unusual clematis, Clematis tibetana (the black form) and Clematis repens.  These two plants are young yet and still in pots — I may get them in the ground next spring; if not, then next fall.  If you happen know anything more about any of my three new unusual clematis (Clematis otophora, Clematis repens, or Clematis tibetana (black form)), please, please let me know!!!

See below for photos of Clematis tibetana (black form) and Clematis repens.


Dangling Bells of Clematis repens

Dangling Bells of Clematis repens


The Dusky Bells of the Black Tibetana

The Dusky Bells of the Black Tibetana

Clematis Blooming in October

Did you know that our mild Pacific Northwest climate allows for at least one clematis to be blooming in every month of the year?  Here’s a taste of what I mean.  In my October garden, I have two late-blooming clematis at their peak of bloom, Sweet Autumn Clematis (C. terniflora) and C. ‘Madame Baron Veillard’.

Sweet Autumn Clematis in October

Sweet Autumn Clematis is a big plant (20-30 feet) with a multitude of small white wonderfully fragrant flowers.  In our climate this plant blooms in October, though in my Boston garden it bloomed for me in August and September. To be successful in the Pacific Northwest, this clematis needs to be sited in a warm spot.  That’s because the flowers require serious heat to set buds and shortening days to trigger them to open.  We don’t have any trouble providing the shortening days, but heat units can be a problem here.  Mine seems to love growing eight feet up a lattice onto a west-facing deck.

Clematis ‘Madame Baron Veillard’ is a lovely mauve flowered clematis that waits til September to even think about blooming in my garden.  It was named over 100 years ago for a French baroness who loved to garden. 

As you can see, it has a lovely  bloom that warms the heart just as the days seem to be getting shorter and gloomier.

Several other clematis are blooming in my garden now, including three that are especially showy.  The one on the right is Clematis ‘Sizaia Ptitsa’  — that’ll twist your tongue, huh?  A friend of mine just calls it Slice of Pizza, which is not too far off the Russian pronunciation.  This clematis has been blooming for over three months and is just beginning to show signs of winding down. 

Below is Clematis viorna, a species from the southeastern US with a sweet bell-shaped cream-and-lavendar bloom and wonderful seed heads.  It, too, has been blooming for months and is showing off here with the lavendar berries of a beauty berry.  Last, but definitely not least, is Clematis florida ‘Sieboldii’ (also below) – what a gorgeous flower!

C. viorna (species clematis)

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