Winter Doldrums

Northwest Flower & Garden Festival
February 26 – March 1, 2020

As the days get ever shorter and grayer, I begin to hanker for Seattle’s Northwest Flower & Garden Festival. I can’t wait to see all the blooms and drink in the earthy smells at the Washington State Convention Center in February.

I am delighted to be a Seminar Speaker at the Festival again this year with a new topic: Great Understory Trees. On Friday, February 28, at 2:30pm in the Raineer Room, I will talk about my personal favorite small(ish) trees that are on the Great Plant Picks list; I will be followed by two other speakers on trees (risk assessments and large trees). Of course, I love small trees–they make perfect scaffolds for clematis! See, for example, C. ‘Etoile Violette’ below in a lilac tree in my Boston garden of several years ago!

Water Color Painting

Another way I am brightening these short dreary days is with using water color paints to replicate the colors of blossoms, leaves, cones, seed heads, or anything else in the garden that catches my eye. I learned to do this from Lorene Edwards Forkner, a well-known local horticulturist and speaker, who will explain this delightful way of learning about color at the Flower Show on Wednesday, February 26, at 3:30pm in the Hood Room. I’ll be there!

Below is my recent effort to find the colors of C. cirrhosa ‘Freckles,’ which has just started to brighten my winter with its blooms again. I look and look and look at whatever I’ve chosen to bring in from the garden to discover all the colors and then use my paints to replicate those colors as best I can. I do this as a daily practice that I find relaxing and rewarding as well as a great learning experience. If you would like to see more of my attempts, go to Instagram.com/lbwlss. As the season moves toward spring and more clematis begin to bloom, I will post my efforts at duplicating their colors here. I also plan to post more photos of clems–I promise!

The colors of Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’

Clematis Budding Up!

After a morning of downpours, the sun broke out briefly this afternoon and drew me outdoors.  My fabulous winter bloomer, Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’, was putting on a glorious show (see photos below).  It is such a reliable winter-time bloomer for me.  Much to my surprise, several of my spring and summer blooming clematis already have fresh green growth (more photos below)!

A series of photos of my Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’
showing off in January.

Freckles2

 

Freckles1

 

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Fresh new beginnings mingling with the old.  Oh, such promise!

C. ‘Josie’s Midnight Blue’

NewGrowth1

C.  ‘Sugar-Sweet Blue’

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C. ‘Duchess of Edinburgh’

NewGrowth4

 

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

 

 

February Bloomer: Clematis cirrhosa var purpurascens Freckles

Winter-Blooming Clematis Freckles

Winter-Blooming Clematis Freckles

Yes, I truly do have a clematis actually blooming in Seattle in February! Clematis cirrhosa var purpurascens ‘Freckles’ (that’s its full name–really, it is!) is presently gracing my garden with blooms, well, one anyway.  The blossom I gleefully discovered two days ago was found only because I leaned half over the deck checking out my vines hoping against hope for a bloom. Then–aHA–I saw one! And almost killed myself in my excitement by leaning just a tad too far over the deck rail before I came to my senses. Alas, today when I wanted to photograph it for posterity, it had already shriveled.  Nearby buddies were still only small white buds. I certainly didn’t want to disappoint readers, especially Ingrid in Sweden, who were hankering to see a clematis actually blooming now in a garden real time. So, this morning I hunted around and right on the deck in easy reach of the camera, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a lovely single bloom. 

The fresh-looking crisp  foliage of this clematis is dainty, apple-green, and deeply divided, almost fernlike.  Even when it’s not blooming it adds welcome green accents to the winter garden. 

Cirrhosa Freckles in July

Cirrhosa Freckles in July

The down-side is that this clematis, and all its Clematis cirrhosa cousins, are tender, being natives of the Mediterranean, from southern Spain and northern Africa to Syria.  Luckily, here in Seattle, we can grow them easily.   This particular clematis was raised from seed collected on Mallorca (an island in the Mediterranean Sea) by Allen Peterson, curator of the Chelsea Physic Garden in the 1980s.  Well-known clematis nurseryman, Raymond Evison, received seeds from Peterson and introduced one of the resulting seedlings as Freckles in honor the freckled face of one of his daughters.

A sun-loving vine that can grow 12 – 15′, Clematis Freckles is expected to bloom betweeen October and February.  My particular plant is confused–or maybe just a rebel.  This year it bloomed with strong red freckles in July with my burgundy Barberry ‘Helmut’s Pillar’ and the chartreuse flowers of Bells of Ireland — then again now in very late February with a pallid flower, whose wan look is due I presume to the short gray days we’ve had, which lacked enough sun to bring out strong color.

If you have one, let us know how yours behaves (or misbehaves).

Clematis Blooming in December

A very late and a bit tattered C. 'Duchess of Edinburgh'

Clematis in my garden have been showing no signs of entrancing me with blooms in December.  Then the other day I thought to look up.  There, about 10′ off the ground up the gutter, Clematis ‘Duchess of Edinburgh’, a double June bloomer that sometimes reblooms with single flowers, had opened a somewhat tattered white flower, with second one on the way — maybe we’ll see that one in January.  I had to  hang out an upstairs window to get the photo.   What a delightful surprise at the end of December! 

Two other clematis I have are supposed to bloom in November and December, Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’ (see photo below) and Clematis cirrhosa ‘Jingle Bells’.  Jingle Bells, which is said to sport white bells in late fall/early winter, at least has the excuse of having been in the ground only a little over a year.  Freckles, on the other hand, was planted in 2008 and has no such saving grace.  My plant, which should bloom in late autumn, tends to throw a few blooms in July or August, then nothing in the fall.  Though it’s evergreen with dainty fresh green leaves throughout the winter, I hanker for the flowers!  In the photo below, my C. ‘Freckles’ demonstrates its disdain for bloom times by showing off with my Barberry ‘Helmond Pillar’ and Irish Bells in July!  Geesh.  You can see why it was named ‘Freckles’, though. I guess there’s still time — both Jingle Bells and Freckles are said to bloom from late fall through February. We’ll see.

Cirrhosa freckles

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