Clematis Bells

BucklandBeauty - Copy

Clematis ‘Buckland Beauty’–beautiful bell flowers inherited from Clematis texensis.

Gardeners who have a nodding acquaintance with clematis are often only aware of the big beautiful heart-stopping, jaw-dropping blossoms of late spring.  As one becomes more and more enamored with clematis and delves deeper into the genus, the dainty beauty and wide variety of the bell-shaped flowers are the ones that captivate.

The southeastern US is a breeding ground for many bell-flowered clematis species, which have long been widely used by hybridizers to create lovely new plants.  Clematis ‘Buckland Beauty’ above, for example, is the result of a cross between Clematis texensis (a red bell-flowered species from Texas) and one of the other species.

The Texensis Clan

In my last post, I described Clematis texensis and some of its progeny.  The species, which grows in Texas, is variable.  The flowers tend to have a downward-facing bell shape, usually with recurved tips, sometimes lined with white or yellow.  The inside of the tepals can be various shades of red, yellow, or white.

Texensis6

A lovely red Clematis texensis with white accents

 

TexensisSeedling

A Clematis texensis seedling with reddish-purple outer tepals, white on edges and the underside

 

Texensis5

Here’s another, a bit pinker with a shorter flower.

Hybridizers discovered the wonderful red of Clematis texensis (also called the Scarlet Clematis) in the late 1800s, and still today exciting new hybrids come onto the market.  Crossing Clematis texensis with other types of clematis has resulted in an astonishing variety of new and beautiful plants, such as flatter blossoms of Clematis ‘Ville de Lyon’ and Clematis ‘Catherine Clanwilliam’ showcased in my last post.   Of course, many of the progeny have bell-shaped blossoms, like the aforementioned Clematis ‘Buckland Beauty’ and the following lovely offspring of this interesting species.

sonnette

Clematis Sonnette climbing through a variegated Azara.

 

DuchessAlbany1

Clematis ‘Duchess of Albany’, hybridized using C. texensis 125 years ago!

 

Princess Diana

The beautiful Clematis ‘Princess Diana’

 

PrincessKateST

Clematis Princess Kate ‘Zoprika’, one of the newest texensis hybrids coming from J. van Zoest Nursery in The Netherlands.  Photo from J. van Zoest Nursery.

The Crispas

Clematis crispa is another American species, native in the southeastern US.  This sweet small bell flower often has tepals that curl strongly back on themselves.  It comes in many soft colors–white, light blue, mauve, pink.  The crowning glory for this clematis is its beautiful light fragrance.

Crispa2 - Copy

One form of Clematis crispa

 

BettyCorning07-12-2 - Copy

Clematis ‘Betty Corning’, discovered growing in a garden in Albany, is clearly a Clematis crispa seedling, especially given its delightful fragrance.

 

RedPrincess - Copy

Clematis ‘Red Princess’ certainly looks to be a Clematis crispa hybrid, but the color suggests that Clematis texensis might be the other parent!

The Viornas

Clematis viorna, like C. crispa and C. texensis, is one of over 20 species that are native to the southeastern US and Texas, which are all grouped together in the viorna section of the genus clematis.  Clematis viorna is just one of the many clematis in the viorna section.  It has flowers in the shape of small bells or urns that come in colors like red, pink, reddish brown, and purple.  Many plants sold as the species may actually be hybrids of Clematis viorna and another clematis in the larger viorna clan.

ViornaBeautyBerry

One of my two Clematis viorna.  This one pairs beautifully with Beauty Berry!

 

ViornaFront

A different Clematis viorna looking adorable on my fence

Japanese Hybrids

Many interesting clematis with bell-shaped flowers have been coming out of Japan for many years.  Joy Creek Nursery is a good source for Japanese clematis.  Below are three examples.

 

FrontBell

The fragrant Clematis Kahori no Kimi–perhaps Clematis crispa is a parent?

 

Hakuji

Clematis Hakuji–another Clematis crispa descendent?

 

SAMSUNG

Clematis Shizuku–looking a little viorna-like?

The best sources I’ve found for bell flowers are Brushwood Nursery and Joy Creek Nursery.   So, come on–get one of these dainty-blossomed clematis for your very own!

 

 

 

 

 

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!

June Clematis of the Month & Silver Star Vinery Open THIS Weekend

Clematis of the Month for June

French C. Etoile Violette paired with American C. Betty Corning

French C. Etoile Violette paired with American C. Betty Corning

In my garden the June Clematis of the Month is actually a pair of clematis, one French and the other American:  C. Etoile Violette and C. Betty Corning.  C. Etoile Violette, hybridized in the late 1800s by a French nurseryman, is a luscious dark purple with faint hints of a red bar.  It’s French name means Tower of Purple.  This easy-care large clematis (12-14′ vines) blooms voraciously in June, July, and part of August.  A great clematis for a beginner to try, C. Etoile Violette can be grown into a small or medium tree–mine is growing in an Italian plum tree–or on an arbor, fence, or trellis.

Close-Up of French Hybrid C. Etoile Violette

Close-Up of French Hybrid C. Etoile Violette

It’s partner, C. Betty Corning, is similar in size and bloom time, plus it contrasts beautifully with C. Etoile Violette, both in color and in flower shape.  The original C. Betty Corning caught the eye of Betty Corning of Albany, New York, in a neighbor’s garden in the 1920s.  The plant was the result of a cross made by nature, probably with species clematis C. Crispa as one parent.  Mrs. Corning accepted a cutting from her generous neighbor and, realizing it’s potential, gave a plant to a local nurseryman who got it into commerce.  Now it grows all over the world.  The icing on the cake about this clematis is its delightful fragrance!

The American Clematis Betty Corning

Close-Up of  American Clematis C. Betty Corning

 Second Annual Garden Open at Silver Star Vinery

THIS Weekend, July 12 and 13

Want to see a treasure trove of hundreds of beautiful clematis all blooming at once?  Want a chance to buy some of those beautiful clematis in person?  You CAN!  Debbie Fischer, owner of Silver Star Vinery, a mail-order source of great clematis, is hosting the second annual Silver Star Vinery Open Gardens in the beautiful foothills of the Cascades north of Vancouver, WA, on Saturday and Sunday, July 12th and 13th, from 10am – 4pm each day.   Renowned British clematis hybridizer and speaker, Roy Nunn, will give a clematis talk each day at 1pm.  This rare opportunity to purchase clematis in person from Silver Star Vinery and to see the gorgeous display gardens is an event not to be missed!  I will be there, too, in the display gardens helping to answer clematis questions.  Come on DOWN.

Go to the Silver Star Vinery website to get directions and more information.  For a detailed description of the event in a local newspaper, The Reflector, click here.

Hope to see you there this weekend!

Just a Small Part of the Silver Star Vinery Display Garden

Just a Small Part of the Silver Star Vinery Display Garden

Three Favorite Clems

Clematis Betty Corning

Clematis Betty Corning

Cold damp autumn days run me indoors, giving me time to work on organizing clematis photos, peruse nursery offerings, and consider which clematis zing me the most. Many, many clematis have captured me over the years, but I would like to present here three of my all-time favorites. I simply could not be without any one of them.

Clematis Betty Corning

A Different Plant of C. Betty Corning, showing variability in color

A Different Plant of C. Betty Corning, showing variability in color

As seen in the photos above and to the right, Clematis Betty Corning, with it’s lovely bluish-mauve graceful bells and upturning tips, is a delightful sight to behold. Add a delicious scent and a long prolific blooming period and you’ve got a winner, at least in my book. This clematis was found as a chance seedling growing in an Albany, New York, garden by Betty Corning in the 1920s. She recognized the value of this great plant and got it into the hands of someone who propagated it and got it into commerce. Lucky for us, it’s still widely available. Everyone should have one of these in the garden! Available in the US from the following excellent mail-order nurseries: Silver Star Vinery, Joy Creek Nursery, and Brushwood Nursery. Also frequently sold at local nurseries.

Clematis Gipsy Queen

Clematis Gipsy Queen

A Cascade of Clematis Gipsy Queen

A Cascade of Clematis Gipsy Queen

Clematis Gipsy Queen

The dark dusky blossoms of Clematis Gipsy Queen arrive for me in late summer, when many others are winding down. This clematis shoots up long and tall (12 feet or more) in just one season. It pairs beautifully with roses, other clematis, and trees, but it also looks great on its own. The tepals separate from each other leaving an open gappy look that appeals to me. Clematis Gipsy Queen, hybridized from the famous Clematis Jackmanii in 1877, has certainly stood the test time.  I just wouldn’t want to be without this one!  Available in the US from Joy Creek Nursery.   

Dainty Clematis Viorna

Dainty Clematis Viorna

Clematis Viorna

Clematis viorna is a lovely little thing. Mine blooms from June through September and is always a big hit with visitors to the garden who have never seen a clematis with small bell flowers before. The hummingbirds love it, too!  Clematis viorna can climb trees, drape trellises, and combine beautifully with a variety of plants. For example, I enjoy this one paired with beauty berry as the berries and the flowers have a similar color palette, but it looks great with a dark pink clematis like Clematis Ville de Leon, too. Clematis viorna is a native species of the southeastern United States.  Available in the US from Brushwood Nursery.

Clematis viorna

Clematis viorna

 

 

Fall Has Arrived

Even though fall arrived on Sunday in Seattle with rain, wind, and cooler temperatures, serveral clematis were still showing their wares.  Some even starred in beautiful  autumn floral combinations!

Clematis My Angel (rumored to be a thug)

Clematis My Angel (rumored to be a thug)

A Digression

But first, let me digress about a recent sighting of Clematis My Angel.   A month ago or so, my husband and I took a weekend jaunt to the quaint Victorian town of Port Townsend on the Olympic peninsula here in Washington State.  We enjoyed a great lunch one day outdoors on the patio of a little neighborhood restaurant. Several houses, including the restaurant (which had been a house in an earlier life), had yards that butted up against each other with a wide and winding semi-public pathway in-between. As we were eating, my eagle clematis eye recognized that an unfamiliar clematis was cloaking an arbor about 30′ away, so quite naturally I had to investigate.  It was Clematis My Angel, a hybrid of Clematis orientalis var orientalis and Clematis intricata, raised by Wim Snoeijer of the Dutch nursery Jan van Zoest. It’s a lovely clematis that blooms in August and has great seedheads.  I, however, have steered clear of it because of rumors that it can sometimes become invasive, not only reseeding but also running underground. It’s lovely, though, with nodding bronzy-purple buds that open to show off yellow undersides with brown stamens.  Hmm, maybe I DO need this one, after all. 

Way Too Many Clematis Need Planting

Sunday I managed to plant eight of the twenty-four clematis that have somehow showed up in my potting area.  Then, today, I upgraded four to larger  pots–too young or too small to plant out yet.  Because the eight clematis I managed to get planted this weekend are new to me, I have no photos of my own.  But you can check out the links below to Clematis on the Web to see what they look like.  All but one of these will join three or four others on the back fence of my property – and grow through to the alley-where they can WOW alley strollers and dog walkers!

Clematis Happy Birthday

Clematis Mrs. Cholmondeley (pronounced Chumley)

Clematis Multi Blue

Clematis Omoshiro

Clematis Rebecca

Clematis tibetana subsp vernayi var laciniifolia

Clematis Vitiwester

Also planted, but in a place seen from inside the garden:

Clematis tibetana (black form) (should look similar to the one at this link)

A Sampling of my September Bloomers

One of the most lovely clematis blooming in my garden now is Clematis florida sieboldii next to my front steps.  I have enjoyed the one in my back garden so much that I got one last spring for the front .  It bloomed beautifully for me in June, but then collapsed to the ground (wilt?  broken stem? something else?  who knows?).  So I had to cut it to the ground – then, lo and behold, it grew a new stem and is blooming again in September!  Gotta love that clem!  

Clematis florida sieboldii (in my front garden)

Clematis florida sieboldii (in my front garden)

Madame Baron Veillard is still throwing its welcome late blooms.

Clematis Madame Baron Veillard

Clematis Madame Baron Veillard

Even Betty Corning has put out a couple of new blossoms for my enjoyment.

Clematis Betty Corning

Clematis Betty Corning

And Clematis Sizaia Ptitsa, which has been blooming for months, is still sending out new flowers.

Clematis Sizaia Ptitsa, still going strong

Clematis Sizaia Ptitsa, still going strong

Clematis Etoile de Malicorne, a June bloomer, showed off with a late and lovely blossom.

Clematis Etoile de Malicorne

Clematis Etoile de Malicorne

Nearby Clematis Ville de Lyon is blooming with the black berries of a Hypericum.

Clematis Ville de Lyon

Clematis Ville de Lyon

My Clematis terniflora (Sweet Autumn Clematis) is loaded down with buds and should burst into fragrant bloom any day now.  Though Sweet Autumn Clematis blooms for me here in Seattle in late September and early October, when I grew it in Boston (much much more heat), it would bloom for me from August to October!  But even with a shorter season here in Seattle, I wouldn’t be without it.

Multitudes of Buds on Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora)

Multitudes of Buds on Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora)

Great Autumn Clematis Combos

Late blooms of Clematis Margot Koster spontaneously color-coordinated itself with a Pee Gee Hydrangea.

Clematis Margot Koster

Clematis Margot Koster

Clematis Rooguchi Making a Comeback with Rudbekia Goldsturm.

Clematis Rooguchi

Clematis Rooguchi

As promised, here is a photo of my Clematis viorna cavorting with the beautiful lavender fruit of Beauty Berry (Calicarpa).

Clematis viorna with the lavender berries of Beauty Berry

Clematis viorna with the lavender berries of Beauty Berry

Two More Sweet Little Bells

Here’s a photo of a cute hybrid of Clematis pitcheri from the southeastern US.

Clematis pitcheri hybrid on a Ceonothus.

Clematis pitcheri hybrid on a Ceonothus.

A  Japanese hybrid, Clematis Hakuju has dainty white bells that bloom off and on all summer for me with the black leaves of a dark Actea (formerly Cimicifuga) and the clear green leaves and white flowers of Nicotiana sylvestrus.

Clematis Hakuju with a dark-leaved Actea (aka Cimicifuga)

Clematis Hakuju with a dark-leaved Actea (aka Cimicifuga)

What’s blooming in YOUR garden?

 

Clematis of the Month–June

Clematis Etoile Violette and Clematis Betty Corning in my Plum Tree

Clematis Etoile Violette and Clematis Betty Corning in my Plum Tree

The best clematis in my garden for the month of June is, hands down, a beautiful pairing–Clematis Etoile Violette and Clematis Betty Corning cavorting together in my plum tree.  The rich dark purple open blooms are Clematis Etoile Violette.  Clematis Betty Corning is the pale bell, which is delightfully fragrant to boot.

Today I head off to Germany for the annual conference of the International Clematis Society.  I’ll be seeing scads of beautiful clematis and hope to post from there, so be on the lookout for clematis news from Germany.

Below are a few more of the lovely clematis blooming in my garden today.

Dainty Clematis Odoriba

Dainty Clematis Odoriba

Dark and sultry Clematis Negrityanka

Dark and sultry Clematis Negrityanka

Clematis Caroline

Clematis Caroline

The floriferous and ever-beautiful Clematis Madame Julia Correvon

The floriferous and ever-beautiful Clematis Madame Julia Correvon

Clematis Bijou as a groundcover

Clematis Bijou as a groundcover

Clemitis Kiri Te Kanawa -- only planted about two months ago!

Clemitis Kiri Te Kanawa — only planted about two months ago!

Clematis Josephine, still going strong

Clematis Josephine, still going strong

First bloom on my new Clematis Crispa

First bloom on my new Clematis Crispa

Clematis Beauty of Worcester

Clematis Beauty of Worcester

Clematis Pruning Workshop

Good Gravey, the garden is burdgeoning!  Like Ellen DeGeneres (quoting Simon and Garfunkel), I want to say slow down, you move too fast.  Whenever I’m at work, the day is perfect for gardening.  When I’m off, it pours or it’s freezing like today.  Geesh.

Students from the Clematis Pruning Workshop

Students from the Clematis Pruning Workshop

Clematis Pruning Workshop

Last week I taught a Clematis Pruning Workshop in my garden with four students attending.   I enjoyed it and learned new things myself!  The eager students seemed to have a good time as well.

Pruning Group A (Early-Blooming, Small-Flowered Clematis)

First we walked around the garden looking at how various Pruning Group A clematis look in early spring.  These clematis, which bloom between October and May, don’t usually need an annual prune. 

We checked out my Clematis montana growing in a 90′ tall Port Orford cedar (it’s about 40′ or 50′ into the tree, which looks amazing when it blooms).  We also inspected three evergreen New Zealand clematis that will show off their fragrant creamy white blossoms soon.  Two Clematis cirrhosa, also evergreen, are growing in the garden, too, and one of them, Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’ (see my February post highlighting this clematis), has been in bloom for over a month now.  One of the most unusual Pruning Group A clematis I have is Clematis napaulensis, which is winter green (it goes dormant in the summer) and sports creamy white bells with red stamens in winter–mine is young and not blooming yet.  But the majority of Pruning Group A clematis in my garden are various hybrids of Clematis alpina and Clematis macropetala, both of which have lovely nodding bells in many colors in April and May.

Comparing Early  Spring Growth on Various Clematis

Clematis alpina (Pruning Group A)

Clematis alpina (Pruning Group A)

 We found that the Pruning Group A clematis (alpinas and macropetalas) and the large-flowered spring-blooming Pruning Group B clematis both had new leaf growth tight to the vine in early spring, and many were already showing flower buds.  The leaves on the alpinas/macropetalas are more finely divided than those on the Pruning Gruop B clems.  See photos.  When compared to Pruning Group C clematis in my garden, which bloom on old wood, we found that the young growth on the Cs stretched out much further from the main vine and showed no signs of flower buds.   These clematis are working to grow vines this time of year, while the As and Bs on the other hand devote their spring energy to producing flowers–they will throw vines after they finish blooming.   

Clematis 'Guernsey Cream' (Pruning Group B)

Clematis ‘Guernsey Cream’ (Pruning Group B)

Please note:  these photos and comments represent observations of particular clematis in my garden and can’t really be used to identify which pruning group another clematis represents.  If you don’t know what clematis you have or when it blooms, prune it lightly as for Pruning Group B (which will be described in my next post, coming soon) and wait to see when it blooms and what it looks like in order to identify it.  

Clematis 'Betty Corning' (Pruning Group C)

Clematis ‘Betty Corning’ (Pruning Group C)

The Actual Pruning

Pruning Group A clematis do not typically require an annual pruning.  However, because most of them are large plants, they will eventually get into trouble and need to be pruned, very often after they have gotten large and unwieldy or when they are growing where they are not wanted.   The best way to handle this situation  is to prune shortly after the plant has finished blooming.  I described the process to the group and had them practice on a large plant.  They divided the plant into two parts — you have to be a bit rough to get the plant separated into two groups, but don’t worry, the plant will recover.  Then they cut half of the plant back hard and left the other half to be pruned hard next year.   This process has the two-fold advantages of ensuring that the plant won’t succomb to the hard pruning and maximizing bloom for the following spring.

We spent considerable time on Pruning Group B plants, which require much more detailed pruning (see my upcoming post for details).  Additionally, the group pruned a large Pruning Group C plant (Clematis ‘Betty Corning’) so that it would have a leg up into the tree it is growing in (normally Pruning Group C plants are cut back to 1′ – 3′ because they bloom on new wood).    I demonstrated a similar pruning situation on a Clematis ‘Madame Julia Correvon’ that must climb a fence before it can reach the tree it will embellish with its red blossoms in summer.  See before and after photos below.

 

Clematis 'Fair Rosamond' Before(Pruning Group B)

Clematis ‘Fair Rosamond’ Before(Pruning Group B)

Clematis 'Betty Corning' Before Pruning

Clematis ‘Betty Corning’ Before Pruning

Clematis 'Madame Julia Correvon' Before

Clematis ‘Madame Julia Correvon’ Before

                      

Clematis 'Fair Rosamond' After

Clematis
‘Fair Rosamond’ After

 

Clematis 'Madame Julia Correvon' After

Clematis ‘Madame Julia Correvon’ After

Clematis 'Betty Corning' After

Clematis ‘Betty Corning’ After

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