Clematis atragenes Blooming!

Seattle has been drowning, drenching, and dripping for the past three months. Most days, staying reasonably dry while working in the garden has not been possible. Nevertheless, the garden is burgeoning, and the Clematis atragenes have begun to bloom. These are early spring bloomers have delightful nodding bells in many soft colors and delicate foliage.  Included among the C. atragenes are C. alpinas (usually single), C. macropetalas (usually double), and C. koreanas.

I have sadly lost three of my six atragenes, C. Jacqueline du Pre (a crisp and lovely pink and white alpina), C. Cecile (a delightful blue-purple alpina), and C. Pauline (a richly colored purple macropetala).  Hrmph!  Maurice Horn of Joy Creek Nursery told me that he fears that the warmer weather of recent years in the Pacific Northwest has taken a toll on these cold-hardy plants.  We may start having trouble growing them here.  The three I lost were all against the house; the three I have left are all in the open garden, which is presumably a bit cooler, at least in winter.  I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

Hmm, maybe I should buy more just for testing purposes.

BlueDancer2

In my garden, the first to bloom (as usual) is C. Blue Dancer with its extra long sepals.

MarkhamsPink1

Here’s the luscious and rosy C. Markham’s Pink, just beginning its show.  I also have C. Willy, another pink and white one, but his buds are still tightly closed.

March Clematis of the Month: Clematis macropetala ‘Maidenwell Hall’

MaidenwellHall3

Finally, finally in late March I got my first clematis blossoms of the season!  Whooo hooo!  Four clematis alpinas and macropetalas in my garden have opened their beautiful blooms!  Clematis macropetala Maidenwell Hall gets the prize for March this year because this poor young plant got such a shaky start.   While visiting a nursery north of Seattle in the Skagit Valley in the heat of August, my friends and I found a 90% off table.  Lo and behold, there was a clematis there looking hot, dusty, and bedraggled.  A friend spotted C. Maidenwell Hall first, but she kindly allowed me to purchase the plant.  The plant obviously appreciated coming to a caring home, because it has most definitely perked up.  It’s off to such a good start that I will be able to give my friend some cuttings!  Here’s another shot taken in warm early morning light, which drew out the more purple tones.

MaidenwellHall

Clematis alpinas and macropetalas (also called alpine clematis) are among the first of the clematis clan to bloom in the spring.  Their dainty bells, dangling among the delicate serrated leaves, signal the beginning of the long and continuous slide show of clematis blossoms that lasts into the winter.  Alpine clematis particularly enjoy growing in deciduous shade where they can soak up the warmth on sunny spring days, but later be sheltered from hot summer sun by the tree’s leaves.  These clematis, which grow to about 12-15′ or more, come in blues, purples, lavenders, pinks, and whites and are said to be hardy to Zone 3.  They rarely need pruning (unlike their more unruly late-spring and summer-blooming cousins).  The difference between Clematis alpina and Clematis macropetala is that the alpinas usually have only four tepals, or petals, while the macropetalas are double or semi-double.  Because of much cross-hybridizing, though, sometimes the distinction is a bit hazy.

Below are photos of the other three alpinas and macropetalas blooming in my garden.  Two more, Clematis alpina Willy and Clematis macropetala Cecile, are a bit shy to bloom so far this year.

Here’s Clematis alpina Blue Dancer (a former winner of Clematis of the Month).  It sports particularly long tepals.

Next up, Clematis macropetala Markham’s Pink, one of the most beautiful pink ones.

And finally we have Clematis macropetala Pauline, with rich blue and purple colors.

Clematis of the Month for March 2015: Clematis Markham’s Pink

C. Markham's Pink in full bloom.

C. Markham’s Pink in full bloom.

Here in Seattle (unlike the rest of the cold and snowy US) we had a mild winter and an unseasonably warm early spring.  As a result, all my atragene clematis, a group of clematis that includes alpinas, macropetalas, and koreanas, bloomed for me in March this year, more than a month earlier than usual!  These tough, cold-hardy harbingers of spring all have delightful bell flowers in many colors and delicate serrated apple-green foliage.  More of this group of clematis will no doubt make their way into my clematis collection.

Round buds of C. Markham's Pink

Round buds of C. Markham’s Pink

Clematis Markham’s pink was the first to bloom in my garden this year.  I love it’s soft pink blossoms and the small round pink balls that are its buds.  This clematis was named for Ernest Markham, an important early clematarian who, along with William Robinson, is responsible for saving many fabulous clematis hybridized by Francois Morel in the late 1800s and very early 1900s.  Among Morel’s hybrids are some of the most popular clematis still today:  C. Perle d’Azure, C. Ville de Lyon, and C. Comtesse de Bouchaud, along with many others.

Clematis Joe Zary, with it's sputnik flower.

Clematis Joe Zary, with it’s sputnik flower.

Also blooming in March is C. Joe Zary (a macropetala).  It’s new for me, as of last spring, and came highly recommended from Debbie of Silver Star Vinery.  Not only does it have spiky lavender flowers that remind me of sputniks or sea anemone, it is reputed to repeat bloom throughout the summer.  I can’t wait to see it blooming along with its host, a blue lacecap hydrangea.

C. alpina Cecile was blooming too high up in a tall variegated Azara for a good photo, but below are some of the other clematis that were showing off in my garden in March.

C. Blue Dander

C. Blue Dancer

C. Pauline

C. Pauline

New Zealand clematis, C. Pixie

New Zealand clematis, C. Pixie

Purple stems of C. recta purpurea already sprouting in March!

Purple stems of C. recta purpurea already sprouting in March!

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?

The Race is ON!

Clemats 'Pixie'

Clemats ‘Pixie’

My sweet little fragrant New Zealand Clematis ‘Pixie’ opened it’s first flower the other day, crying Seattle raindrop tears, and now sports several more blooms.  Pixie is the only clematis currently blooming in my garden (other than that cock-eyed out-of-sync Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’ described in an earlier post). 

Clematis 'Markham's Pink'

Clematis ‘Markham’s Pink’

But which spring-blooming clematis will be next?  Four or five Clematis alpinas and Clematis macropetalas are budded up and ready to burst.  My treasured Clematis koreana seedling (see last post)  is in the running, too, with its little bud swelling a bit more every day.  And Clematis montana ‘Vera’, 40’ up a 90’ Port Orford Cedar, should be showing off any time now,  draping the tree with festoons of pink.

Clematis 'Cecile'

Clematis ‘Cecile’

Clematis 'Jacqueline du Pre'

Clematis ‘Jacqueline du Pre’

Clematis 'Pauline'

Clematis ‘Pauline’

Clematis 'Blue Dancer'

Clematis ‘Blue Dancer’

Planted Three Clematis (C. ‘Louise Rowe’, C. ‘I Am Lady Q’, and C. alpina ‘Markham’s Pink)

C. alpina 'Markham's Pink'

C. alpina ‘Markham’s Pink’

Events both at home and at work have conspired to give me little time in the past three weeks for contemplating clematis, let alone doing anything with them or writing about them.  Things have let up a bit now, thank goodness.

I did manage to get three of my clematis planted between raindrops, only seven more to go.   (For tips on planting a clematis, click on the Buying and Planting Clematis category on the left.) To learn how to plant a clematis, see my earlier post.)  The first to go in the ground was C. alpina ‘Markham’s Pink.’   It is snugged up to an Azara, a narrow evergreen shrub or small tree with tiny dark green leaves.  I think the two will look stunning together when ‘Markham’s Pink’ blooms in April. 

This clem was hybridized by Ernest Markham, a British clematis enthusiast for more than 35 years in the early half of the twentieth century.  He and his employer and friend, William Robinson, took on many clematis from a prolific French hybridizer, Fransique Morel, when Morel lost interest in clematis.  As a result, we can grow many of Morel’s beautiful clematis today.  Here’s a list of the beautiful Morel clematis I grow–I am sure you will be seeing them in future posts, and perhaps you grow some of them yourself:  ‘Abundance’, ‘Comtesse de Bouchaud’, ‘Etoile Violette’, ‘Gravetye Beauty’, ‘Huldine’, ‘Little Nell’, ‘Madame Julia Correvon’, ‘Minuet’, ‘Perle d’Azur’, ‘Purpurea Plena Elegans’, and ‘Ville de Lyon’. 

C. 'Louise Rowe'

C. ‘Louise Rowe’

Next I tucked a specimen of C. ‘Louise Rowe’ into the ground near both Rosa ‘Jude the Obscure’, a soft yellow David Austin climber, and a Choisea ternata, or Mexican Orange, which is an evergreen shrub with fragrant white flowers in early summer. 

This beautiful clematis sports pale mauve satiny double flowers in spring (May/June), then semi-double and single flowers later.   All three types of blooms can be on the vine at one time.  I’ve hankered for this clematis for some time and can’t wait to see it bloom with the round cabbage form of the yellow rose.  It will also look gorgeous draped over the Choisea.  I’ll be sure to post photos.

C. 'I Am Lady Q'

C. ‘I Am Lady Q’

Seems that I was in a pink-mauve mood when I recently planted clematis.   C. ‘I Am Lady Q’  is a lovely and prolific bloomer with nodding bi-color flowers in white and lavendar that blooms in high summer (July/August).  It was hybridized by Wim Snoeijer of Van Zoest nursery in The Netherlands.  I have the privilege of knowing Wim, who is a prolific producer of great clematis.   I chose to give ‘I Am Lady Q’ a home in a perennial bed in front of my deck where it can frolic with C. ‘Princess Diana’ (pink) and C. ‘Blekitny Aniol’, or ‘Blue Angel’ (light blue).

The weather looks fairly decent this afternoon, so I’d better get out there and dig some holes for all the poor clems still in pots!

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