Clematis that Bloomed in April and May of 2018

With the exception of two recent additions, I have unfortunately been delinquent in posting about clematis for several months–blooming months at that!  My camera, however, was still clicking away.  Below are a few of the beautiful clematis I came upon, in my own garden as well as others, during April and May of last year.


C. ‘Joe Zary’ blooming in full sun in April. If it were in more shade, the color would be stronger.


The delightful and delectable C. ‘Asao’.  Such lovely shades of pink and sometimes semi-double.  This one is always one of the first three large-flowered clematis to bloom in my garden.


Early blossoms of C. Josephine ‘Evijohill’.  Always a heart stopper!


Clematis ‘Sugar Sweet Blue’ wafting its fragrance on my deck, backed by a stunning Chilean Fire Tree (Embothrium).


C. ‘The First Lady’, one of only a few clematis actually hybridized in the US.  I don’t know which First Lady was meant to be honored with the name, but I think of my personal favorite First Lady whenever I look at it.


C. ‘Silver Moon’ looking ethereal in the shade.


C. ‘Ken Donson’ strutting his stuff.


The redder than red C. ‘Rebecca’!


A visit to C. ‘Duchess of Edinburgh’ on a garden tour.


Oh, be still, my heart!  C. ‘Fond Memories’ while on a garden tour, gloriously blooming before my own even started.  Definitely one of my favorites!


Still touring gardens–C. ‘Nelly Moser’ or one of her imitators.


Another C. ‘Nelly Moser’ look alike spotted while garden touring.  Could be C. ‘Bees Jubilee’.


Back home to find C. ‘Tartu’ blooming away.  Love the two-tone ruffly look.


Last, but definitely not least, the time-honored classic, C. ‘Mrs. Cholmondeley’ (pronounced Chumly)

The First Lady–May’s Clematis of the Month


So many of the large-flowered clematis in my garden are blooming extremely early this year, as much as six – eight weeks ahead of schedule.  But whenever they choose to bloom, they look wonderful!

During my frequent strolls through the garden, I enjoy observing clematis in all their various stages–and, yes, sometimes I even talk to them.  This spring, Clematis ‘The First Lady’ talked back loudly, showing herself off to great advantage.  I purchased this clematis two or three years ago as Clematis ‘Rhapsody’, a clematis for which I had been hankering for some time.  Once I saw the first meager bloom, I knew I had purchased a misnamed plant.  But not until this year, when the poor clematis had built up enough strength to drag itself up out of the heavy shade of a big Fatshedera into the sunshine, did I really see what a gorgeous flower my mistake clematis produced–large lavender blooms (one flower actually measured 9 inches in diameter!), with contrasting burgundy stamens, ruffled edges, and textual ridges in the middle of each pointed petal.  Elegantissimo!  I was able to identify it as Clematis ‘The First Lady’ and seriously considered deeming this tough and beautiful plant Clematis of the Month for this month.

The First Lady3

Serendipitously, yesterday my yoga teacher described to me a clematis a friend gave her as a cut flower.  She has a fine eye for detail, so I was able to identify her unseen clematis from her description as Clematis ‘The First Lady.’  I showed her a photo on my smart phone to be sure and impressed both her and myself with my quick ID.  That clinched it–Clematis ‘The First Lady’ is Clematis of the Month for May in my garden this year!



Clematis ‘The First Lady’ is an American clematis introduced into commerce by Arthur Steffen in Long Island, New York, in 1989.  Mr. Steffen’s company is also responsible for introducing, in 1932, another gorgeous and famous American clematis, now grown throughout the world, Clematis Betty Corning.  The beauty of the name of May’s Clematis of the Month is that you can choose your own favorite First Lady to be represented by this clematis.  I know who mine is!

Below is a smattering of the many other worthy candidates blooming in my garden this month.


The satiny blooms of Clematis Louise Rowe


Clematis Rebecca


Clematis Ramona (lavender) with Clematis Marta


The ever-stunning Clematis Josephine


Clematis Cezanne


Clematis Fireworks


Clematis Utopia


Clematis Fujimusume–such a gorgeous blue!


Clematis Morning Mist–one of these blossoms measured 10 inches!



Clematis Climador (also known as Clematis Königskind)



Clematis Caroline (pink) with Clematis Vyvyan Pennell



Clematis Lord Herschell




The bells of Clematis Sonnette (also known as Clematis Peveril Peach)


Clematis Crystal Fountain (also known as Clematis Fairy Blue)



My very most favorite Display Garden at the Show–West Seattle Nursery’s south west desert.  It literally stopped me in my tracks–I love it!!

Opening day for the renowned Northwest Flower & Garden Show was today, and I was there!  This Seattle show is the 2nd largest flower show in the US and 3rd in the world (after the Philadelphia and Chelsea Flower Shows)!  I wandered around all day in bliss, soaking up the sights, sounds, and smells of blooming gardens, visiting with gardening friends, and listening to three delightful talks!




The Big Winner among Display Gardens–The Grant Tetons



Since seeing everything in one day is completely impossible, I will return tomorrow to make sure I don’t miss anything.  I will start at 7:30am at the Flower Show’s Tweet-Up for Twitter users who sign up ahead of time.  We get treated to coffee, pastries, and a great swag bag.  THEN we get to photograph the Display Gardens for nearly 1 1/2 before the public arrives and with all the lights still on.  Can’t wait!


Then I come again on Friday!  If you are in the Greater Seattle area and have the time and inclination, come hear me speak on Friday, 2/19, at 6:45pm in the Hood Room.  I will be talking about Growing Clematis in Small Spaces and showing inspiring photos of small clematis.  I’d love to see you there!


Monrovia Booth

I have much exploring yet to do, but I have already spied clematis!  Clematis REBECCA is blooming away in the Monrovia Booth (and they have plants for sale, too).  Click link to get more details about this clematis.


The delightful and delectable Clematis REBECCA at the Monrovia Booth.

Sundquist Nursery in the Plant Market

Sundquist Nursery has nine (count ’em, nine!!) different clematis for sale at their booth!  I don’t even have four of them.  Funny thing, I found those four clematis in my backpack when I got home.  I’ve NO IDEA how that happened!

A big note of caution, though.  These plants are very young rooted cuttings, packed bare root.  If you purchase one (I think they are about $12), please plant it in a smallish pot ASAP, keep it watered very well, maybe even once a day until you see new growth, then water normally (i.e., when the top inch or so of soil dries up a bit).  Because they are so young, grow them on in pots, potting up to a larger size once or twice, for at least a year.  Very young clematis planted directly in the ground often just melt away, never to be seen again.


Starting from top left, the Sundquist clematis are:

C. durandii
C. ‘Ruutel’  *
C. integrifolia ‘Alba’ (white)
C. ‘Rosalyn’  *
C. ‘Astra Nova’ *
C. ‘Alionushka’
C. ‘Westerplatte’ *
C. ‘Etoile de Malicorne’
C. ‘Princess Diana’

*These clematis showed up at my house somehow.

Clicking on a clematis above will take you to great information and a photo of that clematis on Clematis on the Web. 

So come on down to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show and see the display gardens, shop at the three large market places (including the plant market and the Vintage Market), and listen to one or two of the 100 speakers at the show!  Maybe I’ll see you there.








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 Walk

First Entries in the 2013 Clematis Spreadsheet

First Entries in the 2013 Clematis Spreadsheet

Yesterday, the time had come for my first clematis walk of the season.  I grabbed my clipboard and headed outside to check out all the clematis on my five-page spreadsheet.  As I moseyed through the garden, I took a good hard look at each clematis—if it was doing ok, I put a check next to it in the column for the day.  When I saw no sign of life, I jotted down a question mark.  If any had shown signs of the dreaded clematis wilt, I would have written a W and quickly cut away all the damaged parts of the vine (phew—no such dastardly signs on this walk!).  If the clematis sported buds, I wrote in a B.  If it was in bloom, I counted the blooms (later in the season I often have to guestimate, especially when a plant has more than 100 blooms) and put in that number in the chart.  

Lessons from Clematis Walks

My clematis walks are leisurely and enjoyable, but they have also taught me many lessons about clematis.  For example, I’ve learned that some of the large-flowered May-June bloomers can actually be in bud for six-to-eight weeks before the first flower opens!  Talk about anticipation.  Given Seattle’s dank weather, I often find early signs of slug damage, prompting me to  use Sluggo pronto.  Wilt gets dealt with quickly.  I am able to direct the growth of the clems before they get too settled into their own sense of direction (usually up).  I have also learned when to expect blooms.  Because I have been keeping clematis spreadsheets for years, I can compare bloom times from year to year and try to anticipate when each clematis will bloom in the current year.

Clematis recta 'Purpurea'

Clematis recta ‘Purpurea’

On yesterday’s walk, I noted that three Clematis alpinas were blooming, especially Clematis ‘Blue Dancer,’ with 60 blossoms.  My New Zealand Clematis ‘Pixie’ had 20 creamy white blooms.  Though according to last year’s spreadsheet, my Clematis recta ‘Purpurea’ won’t bloom til mid-June, it’s already making a show in April with its deliciously dark purple leafy stems topped with fat juicy vegetative buds.  I have a similar hybrid, Clematis recta ‘Lime Close’ (aka ‘Serious Black’), which I purchased at the Flower Show in February (see earlier post for more info).   I can’t compare the two, though, because Clematis recta ‘Lime Close’  hasn’t broken dormancy yet–I purchased it bare-root and left it outside in the cold (in a pot) to fend for itself.   I expect to see new growth any time now.

Clematis 'Rebecca'

Clematis ‘Rebecca’

Clematis ‘Rebecca’, a new one that showed up on my doorstep this spring, surprised me with a beautiful flower already.  Because it arrived in only a four-inch pot, I repotted it into a larger pot, where it will live til fall when I will find it a more permanent home in the ground.

During my first clematis walk of the season, I found seventeen clematis in bud, five with blooms, and nine showing no signs of life (yet).  With all the rain we’ve been getting lately, several showed signs of slug damage.  I also noted that five of my clematis weren’t even on my spreadsheet, for Pete’s sake, a problem I quickly rectified.  So I now I know that I have 142 clematis (not counting seedlings), both in the ground and in pots. 

I wonder what I’ll learn from next week’s clematis walk.

004P.S.  Just had to show you my sweet little Italian plum tree, its crown spangled with blossoms and its trunk cloaked in clematis vines.

The Nitty Gritty of Pruning Early-Blooming Large-Flowered Clematis (Pruning Group B)

Clematis 'Guernsey Cream'

Clematis ‘Guernsey Cream’


The early-blooming large-flowered clematis are the ones with heart-stopping, jaw-dropping huge and beautiful blooms in May and June. A few even bloom as early as April, at least in Seattle’s climate. Some well-known cultivars in this group include Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’ (pink), Clematis ‘Rebecca’ (red), Clematis ‘Guernsey Cream’ (cream), and Clematis ‘Daniel Deronda’ (blue). (See photos .)

Clematis 'Nelly Moser'

Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’

Unfortunately, Pruning Group B clematis hang onto their leaves and leaf stems all winter long, resulting in a raggedy tatty mess. Don’t plant one of these clematis by the front door, because they can’t be pruned until spring when the new green vegetative buds begin to swell, showing us where to make our cuts. Fall pruning is out because it would likely send many of those beautiful flowers off to an early death in the yard waste.   The gorgeous clematis unfortunatley also have two additional downsides:  they require fiddly pruning and they are the ones prone to a dastardly disease called Clematis Wilt.  If I can gear myself up to do it, I will write a post about wilt one of these days.

Clematis 'Rebecca'

Clematis ‘Rebecca’

Clematis 'Danel Deronda'

Stripping the Vines

The time to prune these vines is when you begin to see green vegetative buds along the vines. The first step is to cut all the old leaves and leaf stems off the vines. The leaf stems (or petioles) are what clematis use to climb. They will have hardened over the winter and each one will have little hooks at the end (the leaf attachments), which greatly complicate untangling the vines. For a good look at what leaf stems look like, see the photo below of Clematis ‘Fair Rosamond’ before pruning. Removing the leaves and leaf stems, which is much like deadwooding a tree or shrub, is the most time consuming part of pruning the clematis in Group B. Take time and carefully remove all or most of these small leaf stems—work from the top down, bottom up, or inside out as long as you are cutting only leaves and stems, not the vines. I find that my little gardening scissors work best for this chore (see photo below). When done, you are left with stripped vines, some of which may have fallen off their supports since their little hook attachments were cut off.

Clematis 'Fair Rosamond' before pruning, showing old leaves and leaf stems

Clematis ‘Fair Rosamond’ before pruning, showing old leaves and leaf stems

Cutting Them Back

Now you can actually prune the vines.  Always do this work from the top down. The reason is that all the vines will look dead near the bottom, so you can easily cut a vine from the bottom, only to discover, to your chagrin, that the cut vine was carrying the bulk of the growth (and therefore the flowers). At the top of each vine, you will usually see a couple of joints on the stem with no growth, maybe a joint or two with puny growth, and then a joint with a large juicy green vegetative bud (see photo). Cut back to just above that juicy bud. Usually, between two inches and two feet of each vine get cut off. Don’t worry about any puny buds or no-bud joints below the juicy bud. Then tie or weave each vine onto its support. Spread the vines out as you do this and make as many as possible lay horizontally (or nearly so)—this effort will bring great rewards later with a more floriferous show over a greater area.  To see a vine with pruning completed, check out the after photo of Clematis ‘Fair Rosamond’ below.

Pruners work for cutting clematis vines, but my little gardening scissors work even better!

Pruners work for cutting clematis vines, but my little gardening scissors work even better!

After Pruning

Water and fertilize after pruning. Either use organic fertilizer (I use a mixture of manure and compost with a bit of bone meal and alfalfa thrown in) or any rose or tomato fertilizer.

Then sit back and enjoy the show! Once the clematis has just about completed its first blooming, a second bloom may occur later in the summer if you cut the vines back one-third to one-half. These clematis will grow many long vines over the summer, on which they will set the new flower buds for next year’s extravaganza. As these vines grow, twiddle or tuck the growing tips into their support in the direction you would like them to grow.

Clematis 'Fair Rosamond' After Pruning

‘Fair Rosamond’ After Pruning

Ordering Clematis: Brushwood Nursery

Now let’s turn to the third, but most definitely not the least, of my three favorite mail-order nurseries for clematis, Brushwood Nursery.  Brushwood is all about vines–climbing roses, passion flowers, trumpet vines, honeysuckles, and loads of — you got it — CLEMATIS!

Clematis viorna from Brushwood
Clematis viorna from Brushwood

Dan Long, proprietor of Brushwood Nursery and a member of the International Clematis Society, has connections throughout the world that allow him to offer a wide variety of large-flowered, small-flowered, and non-vining clematis. He offers over 350 varieties, though many are already unavailable until he replenishes his stock.  But many others are currently on sale!!   In my experience, plants ordered from Brushwood take off and grow well. Once of my personal favorites from Brushwood is my huge species clematis, Clematis viorna (huge as in big plant — flowers are only about an inch long).  Its blooms are dainty though sturdy little bells with pert tips that recurve like a jester’s belled slippers. I planted this lavendar and white clematis to grow through a Calicarpa (Beauty Berry).  It starts blooming in July and continues to bloom until the beauty berry produces its delicate and lovely lavendar berries.  The two look wonderful together.  Argh!  I haven’t taken an aceptable photo of the pairing yet. 

Two of the many beautiful and unusual clematis Dan offers include Clematis Crystal Fountain (also known as Clematis Fairy Blue’), which is a lovely double, and Clematis Rebecca, one of the most beautiful of red clematis.  Photos below.

Clematis Crystal Fountain (aka Fairy Blue)

Clematis Crystal Fountain (aka Fairy Blue)


Clematis Rebecca

Clematis Rebecca

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