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.

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.

April 2015 Clematis of the Month

And the Winner Is…Clematis Will Baron!

Clematis WIll Baron Wins Again!

Clematis Will Baron Wins Again!

Base of C. Will Baron before cutting through the three oldest vines. Note the three younger vines on the left.

Base of C. Will Baron before cutting through the three oldest vines. Note the three younger vines on the left.

In my garden last year, the reliable and beautiful C. Will Baron won Clematis of the Month in May 2014 for it’s beautiful blooms and for being the first of the large-flowered clematis to bloom for me.  This year Seattle’s mild winter and early warm spring brought Will out first again, a full month early–it’s leading bloom opened on April 9th (first bloom last year was May 10th)–and this was in spite of being heavily pruned in January.  Flowers all over my garden are coming into bloom several weeks early, making us Seattle gardeners worry about what will be left to bloom in June!  Roses are out already, as are alliums, iris, Spanish lavender, poppies, even rock roses.  Crazy.

Base of C. Will Baron in April.  Three old vines are gone, replaced by much new growth.

Base of C. Will Baron in April. Three old vines are gone, replaced by much new growth (accompanied by  groundcover campanula).

The passage of time has had a negative effect on C. Will Baron, which has graced my garden for about ten years now.  It slowly developed a large and unruly rat’s nest of dead vines.  Each year the live vines would coat the outside of this giant ball with gorgeous flowers.  So, what’s the problem, you ask?  Unfortunately, as the rat’s nest got bigger and bigger, more and more plants below suffered from too much shade.  Last year I intended to cut Will back in late winter, but chickened out when loads of tiny new flower buds formed.  This year, in the dead of January, I finally got up my courage.  At the base of the plant I cut through three thick old woody canes that looked almost hairy with pealing bark, leaving three much younger canes alone.  When green growth appeared sometime in February or March, I could easily tell which vines were dead and which living.  After a patient three hours of pruning to get all the deadwood out, working from the top to the bottom, the rat’s nest was history–though history will no doubt repeat itself.  This method of pruning an overgrown clematis–cutting through old vines at the base during the winter, then pruning out the dead stuff when spring begins to push green growth–is one I know I will use again to control my more rowdy clematis.  Check out the before and after photos of C. Will Baron’s vines at the base.

A Bevvy of Other April Beauties

May is gearing up to be a banner month in the garden this year.  Many more of my large-flowered stunners were already beginning the show in late April!

The first bud of C. Josephine about to open.

The first bud of C. Josephine about to open.

C. montana Vera, 40' up a 90' Port Orford Cedar!

C. montana Vera, 40′ up a 90′ Port Orford Cedar!

The gorgeous purple leaves of C. recta purpurea, nearly 6' tal!

The gorgeous purple leaves of C. recta purpurea, nearly 6′ tall already!

The ever-lovely C. Guernsey Cream.

The ever-lovely C. Guernsey Cream.

C. Fair Rosamond starting to strut her stuff.

C. Fair Rosamond starting to strut her stuff.

Read the rest of this entry »

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!

May Clematis of the Month

Clematis Will Baron -- May Clematis of the Month

Clematis Will Baron — May Clematis of the Month

 

Clematis Fair Rosamond -- A Contender

Clematis Fair Rosamond — A Contender

Clematis Josephine -- the Other Contender

Clematis Josephine — the Other Contender

 

 

The Contenders

Deciding which clematis in my garden was the best for the month of May was not an easy task.  The contenders duking it out with Clematis Will Baron were the lovely and fragrant  Clematis Fair Rosamond and the exotic Clematis Josephine.   All three bloomed beautifully with showy large blossoms.

But the color of the blooms on Will Baron was a startling electric blue-violet, which is so difficult to capture in photos.   Oddly, I was able to get closer to the true color when I took a photo from the back of the blooms.   Photos taken from the front always show too much purple and not enough blue.  To see what I mean, check out the two photos of Clematis Will Baron below.  I will be taking a photography class at the Hardy Plant Society Conference in Bellevue, WA, in a few weeks.  Hopefully, I learn how to bring out the true colors of garden plants.

In the meantime, I will be attending the International Clematis Conference in the Philadelphia next week.  I am so PSYCHED!  Expect a full report.

C. Will Baron, a little too purply

C. Will Baron, a little too purply

 

C. Will Baron from the back -- now THAT'S more like it!

C. Will Baron from the back — now THAT’S more like it!

 

Other Clematis Showing Off in the Garden

Take a look at some of the other clematis beginning to bloom in my garden.  Who knows, maybe one of these will get the June title!  Not too long ago, I counted up my clematis by pruning group and discovered that 80% of my clematis were in pruning group 3.  Well, now, there is a very good reason for that.  Most of the pruning-group-3 clematis are so floriferous AND easy to prune.  But over the past couple of years, I have made concerted effort to bring in more clematis from the other two pruning groups.  What a joy to have so many more clematis blooming from March through June.  I love it!  But the late bloomers are still my favorites.  Which are your favorites?

Clematis Cezanne

Clematis Cezanne

Clematis Rebecca

Clematis Rebecca

Clematis Climador

Clematis Climador

 

Clematis Duchess of Edinburgh

Clematis Duchess of Edinburgh

Wow!  The VERY Early First Blossoms of Etoile Violette

Wow! The VERY Early First Blossoms of Etoile Violette

Clematis Omoshiro

Clematis Omoshiro

 

Clematis Tartu Beginning to Open It's First Blossom

Clematis Tartu Beginning to Open It’s First Blossom

Durn, C. Tartu wilted the very next day!

Durn, C. Tartu wilted the very next day!

Clematis The First Lady

Clematis The First Lady

Clematis Versailles

Clematis Versailles

Clematis Vyvyan Pennell

Clematis Vyvyan Pennell

Clematis Fugimusume

Clematis Fugimusume

The Early First Flower of Clematis Ville de Lyon

The Early First Flower of Clematis Ville de Lyon

Let the Blooming Begin!

Clematis blooming has begun in earnest at my house.  My Clematis alpinas and macropetalas are lighting up the garden with their blooms!  I really should plant more of them — what a happy boost they are in the spring.  The first to open was Clematis Blue Dancer–again!  It was the first to bloom last year, too.

Clematis Alpinas and Macropetalas (Atragene group)

Clematis alpina 'Blue Dancer', the first to Bloom!

Clematis Blue Dancer, First to Bloom!

Clematis Markham’s Pink in bud.

Markham's Pink

Here’s Clematis Cecile, first in bud, then newly open, and finally fully open.

Clematis Cecile in Bud

Clematis Cecile in Bud

Cecile Just Opening

Cecile Just Opening

 

Cecile Fully Open

Cecile Fully Open

Next up is Clematis Jacqueline du Pre draped over a daphne.

C. Jacqueline du Pre with Daphne

C. Jacqueline du Pre with Daphne

Here are two photos of Clematis Pauline.  I’m not sure why the second photo is so oddly intense, but I thought I’d show you anyway.  The blooms do present with a luminous color.

Clematis Pauline

Clematis Pauline

 

Clematis Pauline showing off her luminosity (maybe a little too much)

Clematis Pauline showing off her luminosity (maybe a little too much)

Clematis Joe Zary is a new one for me — I got it last summer from Silver Star Nursery, so it’s quite young still.

Clematis Joe Zary

Clematis Joe Zary

 Pruning Group 2 Clematis Already Showing Flower Buds!

Below are photos of the buds of several of my May/June Large-Flowered bloomers.  Ah, the anticipation!  Last year Will Baron and Fair Rosamond were neck-and-neck to be the first in this group to bloom.  We’ll see how this year goes.  Speaking of Will Baron, you may have read my earlier post about how I was going to be brave and cut back three of the old woody vines on this clematis to renew it.  Hrmph–time went by too fast with so many things to do and Will Baron developed lots of buds before I had a chance to prune it.  With all those buds, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.  My new plan is to cut out the three old vines AFTER it blooms.  We’ll see how I do.

Clematis First Lady in bud

Clematis First Lady in bud

Clematis Will Baron in bud -- I chickened out on pruning out the old canes.

Clematis Will Baron in bud — I chickened out on cutting back the old canes.

Clematis Vyvyan Pennell

Clematis Vyvyan Pennell

Clematis Fair Rosamond

Clematis Fair Rosamond

How are the clematis in your garden doing?

Get Out the Clippers! It’s Clematis Pruning Time in Seattle.

Yikes!  C. Will Baron is a MESS and growing fast.

Yikes! C. Will Baron is a MESS and growing fast.

Even though I pruned most of my summer-blooming clematis last fall, I have many spring bloomers in dire need of pruning now.  Lately, here in Seattle we’ve had RAIN RAIN RAIN and the ground is soggy and sloppy!  I know, I know, Seattle is supposed to be rainy but we got spoiled with a long dry spell earlier in the winter.   Clematis Will Baron, above, has become a serious rat’s nest that certainly needs my help.  This one has been in the ground for going on 10 years and has overwhelmed its partner, the rose ‘Buff Beauty’, which I have not been able to prune much in two years.  This clematis is ready for a radical renovation!

My plan of attack is to cut out the three really old canes at ground level (see photo below), then slowly work my way up to prune and gently pull the rest of these old canes out bit by bit.  This should clear up the mess and allow the three newer canes to take over and grow more politely with the rose, which I will finally get to prune.

I'll remove to two old peeling canes and keep the three younger ones.

I’ll remove to two old peeling canes and keep the three younger ones.

All the while, I can think of the lovely lavender-blue clematis that will bloom with the peachy roses of Buff Beauty in June.

Clematis 'Will Baron' with Rosa 'Buff Beauty' in June

Clematis ‘Will Baron’ with Rosa ‘Buff Beauty’ in June

Between raindrops a few days ago, I managed to prune Clematis Fair Rosamund.  The clematis of Pruning Group B (or 2) require fiddly pruning, a little like detailing a car –  very time-consuming.  The finished product you see below took me about three hours.

C. Fair Rosamond, freshly pruned

C. Fair Rosamond, freshly pruned

But in a very few months when I see the beautiful white blossoms tinged in pink with dark red anthers, I’ll be glad I took the time.  And it’s fragrant, to boot!

Clematis Fair Rosamond

Clematis Fair Rosamond

Clematis Talk This Saturday (March 8) at 12:30pm at Sky Nursery

If you live in Greater Seattle and would like to learn more about pruning and caring for clematis, I’ll be speaking at Sky Nursery, just north of Seattle, on Saturday March 8, 12:30pm.  This is part of PlantAmnesty’s Fifth Annual Prune-a-thon at Sky Nursery.  There will be eight free pruning talks (clematis, roses, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, Japanese maples, and more) plus free 15-minute mini garden designs from professional designers for all comers!  Come on down!

PlantAmnesty’s Prune-a-thon at Sky Nursery
Intersection of Aurora Ave N and N 185th St in Shoreline
Saturday, March 8, 9am – 4pm
Click here for more details.

Bloomin’ June!

 Drip System, at Last!

Each clematis has its very own emitter!

Each clematis has its very own emitter!

Life is good. My friend Sean helped me (uh, well, actually, I carefully watched him) put in a drip system for my clems and all my pots. I am in heaven. With the dry spell we’ve been having, I have NOT had to spend hours (sometimes DAYS) watering. YayHA! Thank you, Sean. He showed me how to tweak the system myself, and I plan to make some tweaks this weekend. Hmmm, we’ll see how that goes.

Soon I’m Off to the International Clematis Conference in Germany

Where are the clems? (2011 Belgium Conference)

Where are the clems?
(2011 Belgium Conference)

Yes, it’s true. There actually is an annual international conference where clematis enthusiasts from all over the world gather together to immerse themselves in clematis for a whole week. Later this month I will be heading to southern Germany to attend my third conference (the other two were in Portland, Oregon, and Belgium). Now, I know you are probably imagining us sitting around in a stuffy conference room listening to erudite lectures about obscure clematis. Oh, no, each day all 60 or 70 of us visit two to four gardens and nurseries together–punctuated with rest stops for delicious food and drink, amid comraderie in a multitude of languages.  But just imagine our consternation when, once in a while, we visit a garden with no clematis! Though we are able to enjoy the garden anyway, we are mystified that a gardener could actually neglect to weave at least one clematis into the garden design. We might even find a little time for one of those erudite clematis lectures, too. I plan to take lots of photos and hope to post from Germany, so keep a lookout (I’ll be in Europe from June 27 – July 11).

Bloomin’ June

My garden is in transition now between last of the large-flowered May-June bloomers and the beginning of the later-blooming clematis. Every day I find another clematis in bloom — what an exciting time! Here are just a few of my beauties:

Clematis Caroline, just starting her show.

Clematis Caroline, just starting her show.

Sweet Little Clematis Hakuji

Sweet Little Clematis Hakuji

Clematis Vyvyan Pennell (first bloom ever after four years of wilt!)

Clematis Ekstra

Clematis Ekstra

First Blossom of Clematis Etoile Violette (must be 5" wide!)

First Blossom of Clematis Etoile Violette (must be 5″ wide!)

Clematis Fair Rosamond, winding down

Clematis Fair Rosamond, winding down

Clematis Fugimusume

Clematis Fugimusume

First ever bloom on my new Clematis florida

First ever bloom on my new Clematis florida

Clematis Josephine, still going and going

Clematis Josephine, still going and going

Clematis The First Lady (she'd look lovely with the dark purple  Clematis The President )

Clematis The First Lady (she’d look lovely with the dark purple Clematis The President )

Clematis Margot Koster

Clematis Margot Koster

  

First of Many for my Recently Moved Clematis Pagoda

First of Many for my Recently Moved Clematis Pagoda

Clematis Proteus

Lounger (non-climber) Clematis recta purpurea

Lounger (non-climber) Clematis recta purpurea

Clematis Sonnette--adorable!

Clematis Sonnette–adorable!

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

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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