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.

Armchair Gardening: Checking out the Mail Order Nurseries for Clematis

Early crocus, daffodils, and tulips are tentatively poking their heads up out of the soil to test the waters (so to speak).  My witchhazel is blooming.  The fragrance of the Sarcococca knocks my socks off every time I go in or out the door.  The Northwest Flower & Garden Show is next month.  The weather has been unseasonably warm here in Seattle (though a bit drippy).  So, of course, I have an early form of spring fever!  I really should get outside and finish pruning my Group 3 clematis (the ones that bloom in July and August on new wood), but instead, I stayed inside and drooled over the offerings from my three favorite online mail-order sources for clematis:  Silver Star Vinery, Joy Creek Nursery, and Brushwood Nursery.

Three of My Favorite Clematis

Before I get started, though, I will pause to recommend, both to beginners and to old hands a like, three of my personal favorite clematis, all which are available at all three mail-order nurseries.

 Clematis 'Gipsy Queen'


Clematis ‘Gipsy Queen’

Clematis ‘Gipsy Queen’

This clematis has sumptuous and velvety deep dark purple flowers with rich red overtones on opening, then ages to a lighter reddish purple.  It always stops me in my tracks whenever I see it in bloom (even if I just saw it a minute ago!).  This large clematis (up to 12 or 14 feet) is always recognizable to me, even from a distance, for its size, its lush purple color, and the spacy-ness of its flowers.  Its tepals spread out gracefully, leaving space between them, especially at the base, where the tepals narrow near the center of the flower like the base of a spoon, adding a special charm.  C. ‘Gipsy Queen’, a sun lover, is easy to grow and comes on strong (at least for me) in late July and August when so many of my other clematis are beginning to wind down.

C. 'Guernsey Cream'

C. ‘Guernsey Cream’

Clematis ‘Guernsey Cream’

C. ‘Guernsey Cream’ is usually the first large-flowered clematis to bloom in my garden in spring, sometimes as early as mid-May.  I am always so happy to see it’s rich creamy blossoms, sometimes with green overtones.  It blooms luxuriantly for several weeks before resting for a time.  If I cut it back a bit after blooming, I may get a few more blooms in the autumn.  Several clematarian friends advise me to boldly cut it back really hard to get many more blooms in the second flush.  I’ll try,  really, I will.

Clematis Betty Corning

Clematis Betty Corning

Clematis ‘Betty Corning’

The third of my favorites is the delightful and dainty C. ‘Betty Corning’, with its open bell-shape and soft mauvey-blue color, which shows well when paired with many other clematis or with roses.  It blooms its little heart out in July and August.  The pièce de résistance of this clematis, though, is its lovely light fragrance that wafts around the garden on a warm summer day.  It’s another one that I just can’t be without!

Three More Recommendations from Each Nursery

Brushwood Nursery

As I perused offerings from this nursery, which has all kinds of vines, not just clematis, I chose three excellent clematis to recommend to you that I grow myself.

FairRosamondClematis ‘Fair Rosamond’

A beautiful and easy-care early-blooming white clematis with a contrasting dark-red boss (which is all those reproductive parts clustered together in the middle of the flower).  This 7-9′ vine would pair nicely with a dark-leaved small tree like Forest Pansy Redbud.  It blooms in June and has a very light fragrance of violets.

C. 'Etoile de Malicorne'

C. ‘Etoile de Malicorne’

Clematis Etoile de Malicorne

This is a two-tone large-flowered spring bloomer that blends well with dark blues, dark pinks, purples, and whites.  I grow it to great effect with C. ‘Ville de Lyon’, an intensely pink clematis with rounded tepals (see a photo of this clematis under Silver Star Vinery below)–though their bloom times just barely overlap.  This tall plant, growing to 9-12′, blooms in May/June and pushes out a few blossoms again in the autumn, if you’re lucky.

C. florida 'Sieboldii'

C. florida ‘Sieboldii’

Clematis florida ‘Sieboldii’

A real stunner, C. florida ‘Sieboldii’  blooms in July and August and looks good with just about anything!  It bloomed so well for me in the back garden that I had to have one for the front garden, too.  It has a reputation for being a bid persnickety.  Some years it blooms beautifully, then the next has only a few flowers.  But in this case, even one flower is worthwhile.

Click the links below to see which clematis from Brushwood I am thinking about ordering for myself:

Clematis ‘Vancouver Fragrant Star’, because it’s fragrant.

Clematis ‘Vanessa’, because I’ve met Vanessa and because it blooms in late summer and fall.

Clematis ‘Lady Betty Balfour’, because it also blooms in late summer and fall.

Joy Creek Nursery

Joy Creek Nursery offers many kinds of plants, but fortunately for me clematis are one of their specialties.  Here are three they offer that I enjoy having in my garden.

C. 'Asao'

C. ‘Asao’

Clematis ‘Asao’

C. Asao is a Japanese hybrid that blooms in May and June.  The flowers are pink, gradually morphing to nearly white at the base of the tepals, nicely setting off the yellow center.   This clematis often has just a few extra tepals–not enough to call it double, but enough to give the flowers a ruffly look.

Clematis Alba Plena

Clematis Alba Plena

C. ‘Alba Plena’

This unusual and gorgeous clematis is in Pruning Group C, which means it is easy to prune (just cut it back hard in winter or early spring) and that it blooms on new wood in July and August.  It’s unusual greenish-white blossoms have a large boss in the center.  Sometimes this plant can be a bit finicky to establish, but the effort certainly pays off!

 

Clematis 'Pauline'

Clematis ‘Pauline’

C. ‘Pauline’

C. ‘Pauline’ is a spring bloomer with sweet little nodding bells and delicate leaves.  I love how the dark purple color stands out against the greenery.  Being an alpina type of clematis, this one doesn’t need pruning every year, though after a few years it may develop a ratty look and need a rejuvenation.  It enjoys partial shade–the dappled shade of a deciduous tree suits it perfectly.

Three of the clematis that caught my eye at Joy Creek Nursery are:

Clematis ‘Candida’, because I loved it in my Boston garden–it’s flowers are so large and lovely (sorry, no photo at Joy Creek, but you can see one here.)

Clematis ‘Haizawa’, because it’s adorable — and I saw a robust specimen last summer in a Seattle garden.

Clematis ‘Obotozukiyo’, because it is so delicately pretty.

Silver Star Vinery

C. Star of India

C. Star of India

 

The blossoms of C. ‘Star of India’ are a rich purple with a stand-out red stripe in the center.  The fat tepals overlap, making for a rounded form.  This beauty sports its blossoms in July and August on 9-12 foot vines.  Because it’s a summer bloomer and blooms on new wood, it’s easy to prune (cut it back hard).  Great for any garden with full sun.

 

C. Ville de Lyon

C. Ville de Lyon

Another beauty, C. ‘Ville de Lyon’ is intensely pink with the outer rim of each tepal even darker than the inside.  Once you’ve seen this one in bloom, you will always recognize it.  It’s a tall clematis, often growing to 15 feet.  Because it’s a heat lover, be sure to plant it in a hot sunny spot (keeping it well-watered, of course).

C. Romantika

C. Romantika

A really dark rich color that stands out when placed against a light background such as Lonicera nitida ‘Baggesons Gold.’  Blooming in summer with numerous small flowers, it always catches the eye of visitors to my garden.  Easy care, just needing a hard prune in winter.

 

 

The clematis below are calling my name from Silver Star Vinery.  There may be more than one clematis per page, so you might have to scroll down to find the clematis I’m interested in:

Clematis ‘Arabella’, because I’ve admired it in so many gardens

Clematis ‘Barbara Harrington’, because I’ve admired it in the Silver Star Vinery display garden.

Clematis ‘Kasagai’, because I never heard of it and there’s no picture.  Tantalizing.

I hope all this eye candy will encourage you to buy a new clematis or two!

April Clematis of the Month — And More!

April's Clematis of the Month:  C. Guernsey Cream

April’s Clematis of the Month: C. Guernsey Cream

Clematis Guernsey Cream Wins April Clematis of the Month in My Garden!

Choosing just one Clematis of the Month for April was NOT easy.  Afterall, my Clematis alpinas were all blooming in April — with Clematis Pauline being my favorite this year.  Then, too, Clematis montana Vera was (and still is) looking great — but, being up so high in the cedar, it’s hard to photograph without a telephoto lens.  Clematis Guernsey Cream, though, was absolutely stunning in April and blooming early, too!

The determined C. Asao

The determined C. Asao

Clematis Asao Has Begun Opening

Originally, I thought either C. Josephine or  C. Fair Rosamond, with their big juicy buds, would be the next to bloom.   But two lovely C. Asao, one growing in each of my two big window boxes, had a different idea!  Because C. Asao is a Pruning Group B clematis, I never used to prune them until spring and then only lightly.  However, their ugly reddish brown leaves were a blight to my eyes all winter.  Two years ago I decided to remove both of them and plant Pruning Group C clematis instead because I could cut them back hard in the fall.  I happily purchased and planted C. Pariesianne and C. Justa as replacements.  But the contrary C. Asao had other plans.  They grew back!  They did not mind hard pruning, blooming in spring anyway!   And I think my replacements are being crowded out!  Dang.  But it is a pretty clematis.

Big juicy bud on C. Josephine!

Big juicy bud on C. Josephine!

Clematis Josephine Still Being  a Teaser

Now I really really think that C. Josephine will bloom next!  Check out this bud — it may even open tomorrow! Also, when I was poking around checking on my clematis this afternoon, I noticed that C. Etiole Violette, a great clematis  with its dark purple blooms, is also already in bud even though it’s generally a July/August bloomer.  Well, maybe June/August.

 

C. Duchess of Edinborough with Sunscald

C. Duchess of Edinburgh with Sunscald

Sunscald on Some Clems

Here in Seattle we have had an exceptionally cool and rainy spring with just a few sunny days mixed in.  But last week we were rudely blasted with a three-day heat wave.  I know many people enjoyed spring weather in the 80s but some of my plants (and I!) were not thrilled — we would have preferred our sunshine with temps in the 60s or 70s.   At least two of my clematis, C. Duchess of Edinburgh and C. Margot Koster, ended up with scalded leaves.  Guess I’ll just get out my little scissors and cut off the offending leaves.

October Clematis of the Month

Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora)

Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora)

Sweet Autumn Clematis Gracing the Fall Garden

Sweet Autumn Clematis Gracing the Fall Garden

Sweet Autumn Clematis wins, hands-down, as Clematis of the Month for October in my garden this year — for the second year in a row.  This clematis, loaded down with buds in September, burst into bloom in very early October, then bloomed its heart out throughout the month and even into November.  In Boston, Sweet Autumn bloomed much earlier for me  (in August) and the scent was stronger because of the more intense heat there.  Nonetheless, I love it in Seattle, too.  The delicate white blooms are lovely and the light vanilla (or is it hawthorn?) scent on sunny days is a welcome addition to my fall garden.  A species clematis, whose natural habitat is in China and Japan, Sweet Autumn is a large plant (throwing vines as long as 30-40′ in one summer) that needs plenty of space to grow.  Don’t be alarmed about the size, though, because it can be cut back hard – to only one foot high – in spring. 

A note of caution for gardeners in some parts of the eastern United States – Sweet Autumn can be almost invasive there, but not so here in Seattle. 

It’s correct botanical name is currently Clematis terniflora, but in the past it’s had a confusing number of unpronouncable monikers — C. paniculata, C. maximowicziana, and C. dioscoreifolia.  Under any name, it’s a winner in my garden!

Other October Bloomers

A few other clematis in my garden managed to open a blossom or two during the month of October, though most are winding down for the winter now.  I hope to see some winter bloomers (like C. napaulensis and C. cirrhosa) showing off in a month or two.  If they do, I’ll be sure to post photos! 

A Luscious Last Blossom of C. Asao

A Luscious Last Blossom of C. Asao

 

C. Bagatelle (aka C. Dorothy Walton)

C. Bagatelle (aka C. Dorothy Walton)

C. Margot Koster's Last Few Blooms

C. Margot Koster’s Last Few Blooms

C. alpina 'Joe Zary'

C. alpina ‘Joe Zary’

C. Versailles

C. Versailles

A Fabulous Clematis Weekend

Last weekend, my husband and I drove down to Portland for a few days to relax, eat well, and just enjoy ourselves! For me, of course, that includes CLEMATIS! We visited Joy Creek Nursery, enjoyed an Inviting Vines Garden Tour of five lovely Portland gardens, checked out the fabulous gardens of the Rogerson Clematis Collection, and topped it all off with a special visit to Silver Star Vinery (a great mail-order source for clematis).

Joy Creek Nursery Display Gardens

Joy Creek Nursery Display Gardens

Joy Creek Nursery

On Friday after a delicious deli breakfast across from our hotel, we drove a few miles north to Joy Creek Nursery in Scappose. They had plenty of clems in stock, making deciding which ones I need quite a chore. In the end, I settled on two. The first is Clematis ‘Cassis’, a small reddish-purple double, with Clematis florida in its background–it was pictured on the tag as a luscious dark purple double. But when I looked it up on Clematis on the Web, I found it looks like this! Geesh, I like the first look better! Guess I’ll have to wait and see what I get. The other one I bought was Clematis heracleifolia ‘Cassandra’, which represents my first foray into the perennial clematis with highly fragrant hyacinth-shaped blooms.  While at Joy Creek, we picked up our tickets to the Rogerson Clematis Collection’s fundraiser, Inviting Vines Garden Tour, for the next day. On the way back to Portland, we made a stop at Cistus Nursery on Sauvie Island – this is a nursery with wonderful plants, though, alas, not much in the way of clematis.  They had only Clematis fasciculaflora–a winter bloomer, Clematis cartmanii Joe–a New Zealander, and a Clematis tanguitica (yellow bells). I didn’t need any of those. Nevertheless, several other plants from Cistus made the trip home with us.

The Inviting Vines Garden Tour
This annual garden tour orchestrated by the Rogerson Clematis Collection showcased five gardens, each one beautiful and unique, and all with clematis artfully incorporated. I saw a beautiful Clematis Josephine high up in a tree, an intensely blue Clematis Hakuoonan, and many others.

Clematis Josephine high up in a tree (and seen from a deck)

Clematis Josephine high up in a tree (and seen from a deck)

Clematis Hakuoonan, as seen in one of the tour gardens

Clematis Hakuoonan, as seen in one of the tour gardens

Lovely unknown clematis on Garden Tour

Lovely unknown clematis on Garden Tour

Rogerson Clematis Collection at Luscher Farm in Lake Oswego

018Our last stop on the tour was a visit to the Rogerson Clematis Collection (RCC) at Luscher Farm in Lake Oswego. What a treat! I am so impressed with how RCC has designed the gardens to enhance the ambiance of the old farmhouse as well as to showcase clematis and how to use them in a garden setting. Never fear, this is no clematis monoscape; rather, clematis are artfully blended with diverse and interesting plants and structures. A cadre of RCC volunteers, as well as curator Linda Beutler, were on hand to answer questions, sell unusual clematis from the nursery, and provide tours of the many gardens. Admission is free year-round!

Would you be surprised to learn that three new clematis from Luscher Farm came home with me? Well, they did: Clematis uncinata (a late-summer-blooming evergreen clematis with small white fragrant flowers), Clematis tibetana subsp vernayi var laciniifolia (orange bells with maroon stamens, also blooming in late summer), and Clematis ‘Jerzy Popieluszko’, a large-flowered Polish clematis with lovely big white blossoms on a short plant that should work well in a pot.

View of one of the Display Gardens at Silver Star Vinery

View of one of the Display Gardens at Silver Star Vinery

Silver Star Vinery

Silver Star Vinery is a wonderful mail-order clematis source nestled in the foothills of the Cascades northeast of Vancouver, Washington. Debbie Fisher, owner and head bottle washer (er, I mean head clematis tender), invited us to stop by on our way home from Portland. How could we refuse? This is a nursery that is not generally open to the public, even though Debbie has a humungous display garden filled to the brim with an amazing variety of healthy and beautiful clematis vines. Ahhhhhh. We arrived after a long and lovely drive from the highway up into the hills alongside a meandering stream. Debbie and her fellow clematis tenders, Dennis and Doug, met us at the gate. We wandered through the gardens with Debbie, who is a font of knowledge about clematis. Below are a few of the clematis we saw in bloom there–the Clematis Multi-Blue came home with us.

Clematis Asao

Clematis Asao

Lovely Clem, but don't know the name

Lovely Clem, but don’t know the name

Another beauty!

Another beauty!

Clematis montana Marjorie

Clematis montana Marjorie

Clematis H.F. Young

Clematis H.F. Young

Clematis Ivan Olsson (one of Debbie's Favs)

Clematis Ivan Olsson (one of Debbie;s Favs)

Clematis Daniel Deronda

Clematis Daniel Deronda

Another Unknown Clematis

Another Unknown Clematis

Clematis Multi-Blue (took this luscious beauty home with me!)

Clematis Multi-Blue (took this luscious beauty home with me!)

Clematis Garden Tour in Portland

I know it’s late notice, but . . .

Clematis Garden Tour in Portland!

When: Saturday, May 25, 10am – 4pm

Where: five gardens in SW Portland, as well as the Rogerson Clematis Collection’s clematis display gardens and nursery nearby at Luscher Farm in Lake Oswego.

Fee: $20

Click here for more info, including how to get tickets.

I am so sorry that I didn’t tell you all sooner about this! My life has been crazy lately.

I attend the fabulous Rogerson Clematis tour every year — it’s always on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend. Attendees see gorgeous gardens that demonstrate how to use clematis effectively in home garden situations. Plus the Rogerson Clematis Collection (in Lake Oswego, just south of Portland) will be selling clematis — and, believe me, they have some unusual ones! One of the gardens will also be selling plants. And, if you have time, both Joy Creek Nursery and Cistus Nursery are nearby.

So if you don’t have anything planned for Saturday, make it a day trip, or even stay overnight in Portland. I am!!

Clematis Blooming in My Garden

Clematis Guernsey Cream

Clematis Guernsey Cream

Clematis montana Vera -- 40' up a 90' Port Orford Cedar!

Clematis montana Vera — 40′ up a 90′ Port Orford Cedar!

Clematis Will Baron with Rosa mutabilus

Clematis Will Baron with Rosa mutabilus

Clematis Crystal Fountain, aka Clematis Fairy Blue

Clematis Crystal Fountain, aka Clematis Fairy Blue

Clematis Josephine, just opening

Clematis Josephine, just opening

Clematis Fair Rosamond

Clematis Fair Rosamond

Clematis Asao

Clematis Asao

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