August Clematis of the Month

Clematis viorna in early August, blooming away.

Clematis viorna in early August, blooming away.

C. viorna still blooming in October, color-coordinating itself with the purple beauty berry.

C. viorna still blooming in October with beauty berry.

August was a difficult month for clematis in Seattle, where we suffered the hottest summer on record, along with very little rain.  OK, OK, so some people loved it — but not me or my clems.  I’m learning the hard way that most clematis do NOT like really hot dry weather.  Many of mine took a snit and slowed down or stopped flowering altogether, AND developed crispy brown or spotted leaves.  Hrmph, not an alluring effect.

But Clematis viorna came through the hot weather like a charm, perhaps because it originates from the summer-hot southeastern US.  This clematis, which began blooming for me in late May or June, continued to sport loads of blossoms and unscathed leaves throughout the month of August, making it my garden’s Clematis of the Month for August.

Purple leaves of C. recta purpurea for the second time.

Purple leaves of C. recta purpurea for the second time.

C. recta purpura, blooming a second time in late August!

C. recta purpura, blooming a second time in late August!

The Challenger

Clematis recta purpurea was a contender this month, even though it was Clematis of the Month for July.  This clematis, which has the most beautiful rich purple foliage in the spring, bloomed wonderfully in June with small fragrant white flowers.  As noted last month, I cut it back to the ground when it finished blooming and quickly got new purple leaves, as expected.  But I did not expect it to bloom again!  Check out it’s second blooming in August!

Problem Clematis

In June and July, I cut back several clematis–hard–for various reasons.  Clematis Vancouver Morning Mist wilted in June for the FOURTH year in a row.  I cut it back to the ground and informed the culprit that my patience was gone.  In the fall, it would be OUTA HERE!  One August morning, I noticed something pink beckoning me over by the entry path.  Good gracious!  It was C. Vancouver Morning Mist opening the first of what turned out to be seven blossoms.  I must have scared the living daylights out of it!  I guess I’ll keep it.

C. Vancouver Morning Mist -- Reprieve!

C. Vancouver Morning Mist — Reprieve!

I was loosing my patience with C. Duchess of Edinburgh, too.  This clematis had one woody stem with no flowers and scorched ugly leaves.  Yuch!  I couldn’t take it.  Even though I might seriously set it back, I chopped it to about six inches.  It’s in a pot with a great-looking, heat-loving Chilean Glory Vine (probably a little crowded in there), so I didn’t miss the clematis much.  Well, to my surprise, C. Duchess of Edinburgh came back FAST with big fresh new leaves — and a bit later with several big fat buds!  The blooms were not double as they are in the spring, but they were lovely large pristine white blooms that looked great with all the greenery.  I wonder if clematis leaves grown in the cool moist spring and early summer in Seattle just aren’t programed to take our hot dry summers.  In my experience (especially this summer)  leaves that come into being in the heat of summer handle hot and dry just fine.

The Duchess Blooms!

The Duchess Blooms!

As mentioned in an earlier post, my young Clematis Tartu (with lovely large ruffled lilac blossoms in spring) succumbed to the wilt just as the first flower bud was ready to open and had to be whacked back to the ground.  Very disappointing, especially since I had it in a new ceramic pot by the patio!  But like C. Vancouver Morning Mist, this one grew back quickly and actually had several blooms in August.  Check it out!

C. Tartu blooms without wilting!

C. Tartu blooms without wilting!

What these three clematis have taught me is that if a clematis wilts, has scorched leaves, or is looking just plain ugly, go ahead and cut it back!  It may well come back and bloom again in the same year.  Some of my clematarian friends (like Debbie Fisher of Silver Star Vinery and Linda Beutler of the Rogerson Clematis Collection) have tried to tell me for years to cut them back at the drop of a hat, but I guess I just needed to see it for myself.

A Few More August Blooms

C. Beauty of Worcester blooming in August instead of spring.

C. Beauty of Worcester blooming in August instead of spring!

Clematis Freckles blooming in July instead of October!

Clematis Freckles blooming in August instead of October!

C. Kermisina blooming as expected--in August.

C. Kermisina blooming as expected–in August.

C. crispa

C. crispa

C. Little Nell (named for the young neighbor of the hybridizer)

Dainty C. Little Nell (named for the young neighbor of the hybridizer)

C. Princess Red

C. Princess Red

August Clematis of the Month

Closeup of Clematis viorna

Closeup of Clematis viorna

Finally, the dog days of August have come to an end here in Seattle! The weather was so hot and dry for so long that many of my clems simply shut down. Now that the temperatures have moderated and nearly two inches of rain have fallen in the last week, many of my struggling clematis are beginning to show new growth.  In spite of our difficult weather, though, a few of clematis stood out in August.

The August Winner: 
Clematis viorna

The hands-down winner in my garden during the month of August was Clematis viorna, a species clematis  from the southeastern US that I purchased from Brushwood Nursery a few years ago.  This plant, which has been blooming since early July, was not phased in the least by the hot dry weather.  Every year, it blooms and blooms until hard frost (usually about mid-November for me).  Soon the purple berries of the beauty berry (Calicarpa) it grows on will be in full color, making quite a show with Clematis viorna – I will be sure to post a photo when this dynamic duo struts its stuff.  The vine also climbs up into my paperbark maple (Acer griseum) where it’s too high for me to deadhead.  But I do deadhead all that I can reach regularly, hopefully extending the bloom time. Another plus for this clematis is that hummingbirds love it!

Last spring I purchased a second Clematis viorna from the Rogerson Clematis Collection in Lake Oswego, which I am told will have red blooms. Time will tell. 

Clematis viorna, Blooming Since Early July!

Clematis viorna, Blooming Since Early July!

The Runners Up

Clematis Cassis

Several other clematis managed to show off in my garden during August in spite of the heat and drought. First up is Clematis Cassis. I bought this one last May at Joy Creek Nursery and planted it on my deck in a pot. It immediately took a fit and died back completely to the soil level – geez. Then, in early August, it sent up a single vine that magically sported stunning double flowers!

Closeup of Clematis Cassis

Closeup of Clematis Cassis

Madame Baron-Veillard

Madame Baron-Veillard is a useful clematis that doesn’t even think about blooming til late August or early September.  A fresh new clematis blooming this time of year is truly a treat. It’s mauve tones beautifully complement autumn perennials, like asters, colchicum, rudbekia, phlox, and many others, that are just beginning to burst into bloom.  Another clematis that blooms late like this is Clematis Lady Betty Balfour, with deeper purple flowers – great if you can find one!

Fall-Blooming Mme Baron-Veillard

Fall-Blooming Mme Baron-Veillard

Clematis florida sieboldii

This scrumptious clematis just keeps on going!  It bloomed continually in my garden for six or seven weeks in July and August.  Everyone who came into the garden ooohed and aaaahed over this one!

Clematis florida sieboldii

Clematis florida sieboldii

Clematis Kermisina

Clematis Kermisina is a late-blooming viticella type, flowering for me primarily in August.  Each carmine red tepal has a touch of white at the base, which sets off the black boss beautifully.  An easy care clematis I wouldn’t want to do without.

Clematis Kermisina

Clematis Kermisina

The Texensis Hybrids

Of course, any garden with a clematis texensis hybrid in it will likely have blooms in August.  These wonderful clematis, derived from a species clematis from Texas with small red flowers (Clematis texensis), make a bold late summer impact.  One of the most beautiful is Clematis Princess Diana, but mine got swamped this year by my pushy sweet autumn clematis and didn’t bloom.  And, of course, now we have the new one, white with a lavendar base, named Clematis Princess Kate.  Though primarily available in Europe, I am lucky enough to have one, but mine is still too young to bloom.  Below, though, are three others that were showing off in my August garden.

Clematis Duchess of Albany

This plant was hybridized in the late 1800s and has been grown in gardens ever since.  I purchased mine as Clematis Etoile Rose, but recently realized that it was in fact Duchess of Albany.  Lovely, nonetheless, especially cavorting in a hydrangea.

Clematis Duchess of Albany Growing through a Hydrangea

Clematis Duchess of Albany Growing through a Hydrangea

Sir Trevor Lawrence

Also growing in a hydrangea, Clematis Sir Trevor Lawrence, hybridized at the same time as Duchess of Albany, has a much darker pink color with purplish stripes (which unfortunately don’t show up well in this photo).

Clematis Sir Trevor Lawrence

Clematis Sir Trevor Lawrence

Clematis Lady Bird Johnson

The last of the August bloomers I’ll show you today is Clematis Lady Bird Johnson, another Clematis texensis hybrid. In spite of a tendency toward powdery mildew (along with a few other clematis with texensis in their backgrounds), its blossoms are gorgeous with really long stamens.

Clematis Lady Bird Johnson

Clematis Lady Bird Johnson

We’ll see what September brings. One thing I know for sure is in store for me in September is a whole lot of clematis planting! Just yesterday I counted up the pots of clematis that have settled themselves in my potting area and came up with a daunting 23. Yikes! Where oh where will I plant them all?

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