October Clematis of the Month

Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora)

Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora)

Sweet Autumn Clematis Gracing the Fall Garden

Sweet Autumn Clematis Gracing the Fall Garden

Sweet Autumn Clematis wins, hands-down, as Clematis of the Month for October in my garden this year — for the second year in a row.  This clematis, loaded down with buds in September, burst into bloom in very early October, then bloomed its heart out throughout the month and even into November.  In Boston, Sweet Autumn bloomed much earlier for me  (in August) and the scent was stronger because of the more intense heat there.  Nonetheless, I love it in Seattle, too.  The delicate white blooms are lovely and the light vanilla (or is it hawthorn?) scent on sunny days is a welcome addition to my fall garden.  A species clematis, whose natural habitat is in China and Japan, Sweet Autumn is a large plant (throwing vines as long as 30-40′ in one summer) that needs plenty of space to grow.  Don’t be alarmed about the size, though, because it can be cut back hard – to only one foot high – in spring. 

A note of caution for gardeners in some parts of the eastern United States – Sweet Autumn can be almost invasive there, but not so here in Seattle. 

It’s correct botanical name is currently Clematis terniflora, but in the past it’s had a confusing number of unpronouncable monikers — C. paniculata, C. maximowicziana, and C. dioscoreifolia.  Under any name, it’s a winner in my garden!

Other October Bloomers

A few other clematis in my garden managed to open a blossom or two during the month of October, though most are winding down for the winter now.  I hope to see some winter bloomers (like C. napaulensis and C. cirrhosa) showing off in a month or two.  If they do, I’ll be sure to post photos! 

A Luscious Last Blossom of C. Asao

A Luscious Last Blossom of C. Asao

 

C. Bagatelle (aka C. Dorothy Walton)

C. Bagatelle (aka C. Dorothy Walton)

C. Margot Koster's Last Few Blooms

C. Margot Koster’s Last Few Blooms

C. alpina 'Joe Zary'

C. alpina ‘Joe Zary’

C. Versailles

C. Versailles

Clematis Blooming in October

Did you know that our mild Pacific Northwest climate allows for at least one clematis to be blooming in every month of the year?  Here’s a taste of what I mean.  In my October garden, I have two late-blooming clematis at their peak of bloom, Sweet Autumn Clematis (C. terniflora) and C. ‘Madame Baron Veillard’.

Sweet Autumn Clematis in October

Sweet Autumn Clematis is a big plant (20-30 feet) with a multitude of small white wonderfully fragrant flowers.  In our climate this plant blooms in October, though in my Boston garden it bloomed for me in August and September. To be successful in the Pacific Northwest, this clematis needs to be sited in a warm spot.  That’s because the flowers require serious heat to set buds and shortening days to trigger them to open.  We don’t have any trouble providing the shortening days, but heat units can be a problem here.  Mine seems to love growing eight feet up a lattice onto a west-facing deck.

Clematis ‘Madame Baron Veillard’ is a lovely mauve flowered clematis that waits til September to even think about blooming in my garden.  It was named over 100 years ago for a French baroness who loved to garden. 

As you can see, it has a lovely  bloom that warms the heart just as the days seem to be getting shorter and gloomier.

Several other clematis are blooming in my garden now, including three that are especially showy.  The one on the right is Clematis ‘Sizaia Ptitsa’  — that’ll twist your tongue, huh?  A friend of mine just calls it Slice of Pizza, which is not too far off the Russian pronunciation.  This clematis has been blooming for over three months and is just beginning to show signs of winding down. 

Below is Clematis viorna, a species from the southeastern US with a sweet bell-shaped cream-and-lavendar bloom and wonderful seed heads.  It, too, has been blooming for months and is showing off here with the lavendar berries of a beauty berry.  Last, but definitely not least, is Clematis florida ‘Sieboldii’ (also below) – what a gorgeous flower!

C. viorna (species clematis)

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