November Clematis of the Month: Clematis napaulensis

The fresh new leaves of Clematis napaulensis in November

The fresh new leaves of Clematis napaulensis in November

Regrettably, a Seattle November consists of short dark days.  The only blooms that showed their faces  in my garden were two tired and tattered flowers from Clematis Versailles — not even worth taking a photo.

BUT …  Clematis napaulensis, a wintergreen winter bloomer originally from Nepal, leafed out despite gloomy cold days! The fresh new apple-green leaves emerging from summer’s dead-looking sticks lift my heart.  This plant looks completely dead in summer, so be sure to surround it with lively plants that will hide it’s morose summer nature.  Wintergreen rather than evergreen, Clematis napaulensis leafs out in late fall or early winter and blooms anytime between November and March.  My two-year-old plant just might bless me with blossoms this year, if the cold didn’t nip the buds (possibly even the whole plant!).  The lovely scented flowers are unusual in both their looks and their time of bloom.  Though the individual blooms are small (a little more than one inch), they bloom in small clusters, which engenders a sense of heft.

The beautiful and unusual winter blossoms of Clematis napaulensis.

The beautiful and unusual winter blossoms of Clematis napaulensis.

Unfortunately, December began here in Seattle with a long deep cold spell — several days when the temperature did not even warm up to freezing.  I worry that my tender clematis, like Clematis napaulensis, as well as  Clematis florida ‘Sieboldii’ and Clematis ‘Alba Plena,’ may succomb.  Only time will tell.

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

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