April’s Clematis of the Month: Clematis ‘Asao’

Asao

For the third year in a row here in Seattle, we have had the mixed blessing of a mild winter and warm spring–causing most clematis to bloom a full month early!  Except for Clematis montana ‘Vera’, C. ‘Asao’ and all the clematis below would normally bloom for me in late May and  early June, rather than in April.

In my garden, C. ‘Asao’ is the Clematis of the Month for April because of its stalwartness, as well as its beauty.  Since this clematis supposedly blooms on old wood, conventional clematis wisdom says that we should not prune it until spring, and then only lightly.  Well, the problem for me was that I planted C. ‘Asao’ in two large window boxes on either side of the front door.  In winter, they are downright ugly with big crusty, rusty brown leaves .  Yuch.  So a few years ago,  I worked hard to dig them out and replaced them with plants that bloom on new wood and can therefore be cut back in the fall, at least they can be in the Seattle area.   Unfortunately, the two replacements, C. ‘Parisienne’ on one side and C. ‘Justa’ on the other, didn’t stand a chance.  ‘Asao’ may have been down, but not out for the count.  Both specimens slowly came back from a few stray roots I didn’t clear away and crowded out their replacements.  Hrmph.  I ruthlessly cut them back every fall anyway and guess what!  They grow fast and bloom beautifully with single and semi-double flowers right on time–and they do it on new wood!  Go figure.

More April-Blooming Clematis

MontanaVera

Clematis montana ‘Vera’ blooming 40′ up in an 80′ Port Orford Cedar.  Due to scads of April sun, blossoms are nearly white rather than the more usual pink.

 

GuernseyCream

Clematis ‘Guernsey Cream’, always the first large-flowered clematis to show off in my garden, is such a welcome sight after the winter doldrums.

WillBaron

Clematis ‘Will Baron’ invariably follows close on the heels of C. ‘Guernsey Cream’.

 

FairRosamond

Poor Clematis ‘Fair Rosamond’ had to be unceremoniously removed from her climbing structure in March due to a tree fall.  Never fear, no people or pets were harmed, damage was mainly superficial, and insurance covered it all!  In spite of the ill treatment, C. ‘Fair Rosamond’ bloomed  beautifully, draped over a nearby plant and lounging on the ground.  She’ll be returned to her usual spot after she finishes blooming.

Josephine

And then there is the show-stopping Clematis ‘Josephine’.  Her blossoms speak for themselves.

 

Crystal Fountain

Clematis ‘Crystal Fountain’ just opening its first bloom.

Kahori no kimi

First dainty bell on Clematis ‘Kahori no kimi’.

LouiseRowe

Clematis ‘Louise Rowe’ always seems to have a special glow, whether pale lavender or sun-faded white.

purpurea

The fabulous rich purple of the leaves and stems of Clematis recta ‘Purpurea’.  And check out the juicy buds about to burst into tiny white and fragrant flowers.

 

Stay tuned, because many, many clematis buds are swelling, elongating, and titillating my spirits.  I will have more and different beautiful clematis to show soon.

Clematis of the Month for June: Clematis Etoile Violette

June Clematis of the Month:   C. Etoile Violette

June Clematis of the Month:
C. Etoile Violette

Seattle’s unusually long warm spring propelled all my clematis, as well as most of my other garden plants, into bloom a full month early this year–starting in March and continuing through April and May.  And then June was no different!  The usual stars in my June garden are early large-flowered clematis like C. Will Baron, C. Fair Rosamond, and C. Guernsey Cream.   But this year they had all put on their show in May and were devoid of blooms in June.

Fortunately, though, there was no dearth of clematis in my June garden–the July bloomers came to the rescue!  An excellent case in point is Clematis of the Month for June, C. Etoile Violette.  This 10-year-old plant, which gracefully drapes itself over and through a dying Italian plum tree in the middle of my garden, had more blooms this year than ever before.  I guesstimated over 1,000 blooms all at one time in mid-June.  Check out the photos below, taken on June 13, of C. Etoile Violette from all sides.

C. Etiole Violette, south side

C. Etiole Violette, South Side

C. Etoile Violette, west side

C. Etoile Violette, West Side

C. Etoile Violette           East Side

C. Etoile Violette, East Side

C. Etoile Violette         North Side

C. Etoile Violette,  North Side

April 2015 Clematis of the Month

And the Winner Is…Clematis Will Baron!

Clematis WIll Baron Wins Again!

Clematis Will Baron Wins Again!

Base of C. Will Baron before cutting through the three oldest vines. Note the three younger vines on the left.

Base of C. Will Baron before cutting through the three oldest vines. Note the three younger vines on the left.

In my garden last year, the reliable and beautiful C. Will Baron won Clematis of the Month in May 2014 for it’s beautiful blooms and for being the first of the large-flowered clematis to bloom for me.  This year Seattle’s mild winter and early warm spring brought Will out first again, a full month early–it’s leading bloom opened on April 9th (first bloom last year was May 10th)–and this was in spite of being heavily pruned in January.  Flowers all over my garden are coming into bloom several weeks early, making us Seattle gardeners worry about what will be left to bloom in June!  Roses are out already, as are alliums, iris, Spanish lavender, poppies, even rock roses.  Crazy.

Base of C. Will Baron in April.  Three old vines are gone, replaced by much new growth.

Base of C. Will Baron in April. Three old vines are gone, replaced by much new growth (accompanied by  groundcover campanula).

The passage of time has had a negative effect on C. Will Baron, which has graced my garden for about ten years now.  It slowly developed a large and unruly rat’s nest of dead vines.  Each year the live vines would coat the outside of this giant ball with gorgeous flowers.  So, what’s the problem, you ask?  Unfortunately, as the rat’s nest got bigger and bigger, more and more plants below suffered from too much shade.  Last year I intended to cut Will back in late winter, but chickened out when loads of tiny new flower buds formed.  This year, in the dead of January, I finally got up my courage.  At the base of the plant I cut through three thick old woody canes that looked almost hairy with pealing bark, leaving three much younger canes alone.  When green growth appeared sometime in February or March, I could easily tell which vines were dead and which living.  After a patient three hours of pruning to get all the deadwood out, working from the top to the bottom, the rat’s nest was history–though history will no doubt repeat itself.  This method of pruning an overgrown clematis–cutting through old vines at the base during the winter, then pruning out the dead stuff when spring begins to push green growth–is one I know I will use again to control my more rowdy clematis.  Check out the before and after photos of C. Will Baron’s vines at the base.

A Bevvy of Other April Beauties

May is gearing up to be a banner month in the garden this year.  Many more of my large-flowered stunners were already beginning the show in late April!

The first bud of C. Josephine about to open.

The first bud of C. Josephine about to open.

C. montana Vera, 40' up a 90' Port Orford Cedar!

C. montana Vera, 40′ up a 90′ Port Orford Cedar!

The gorgeous purple leaves of C. recta purpurea, nearly 6' tal!

The gorgeous purple leaves of C. recta purpurea, nearly 6′ tall already!

The ever-lovely C. Guernsey Cream.

The ever-lovely C. Guernsey Cream.

C. Fair Rosamond starting to strut her stuff.

C. Fair Rosamond starting to strut her stuff.

Read the rest of this entry »

May Clematis of the Month

Clematis Will Baron -- May Clematis of the Month

Clematis Will Baron — May Clematis of the Month

 

Clematis Fair Rosamond -- A Contender

Clematis Fair Rosamond — A Contender

Clematis Josephine -- the Other Contender

Clematis Josephine — the Other Contender

 

 

The Contenders

Deciding which clematis in my garden was the best for the month of May was not an easy task.  The contenders duking it out with Clematis Will Baron were the lovely and fragrant  Clematis Fair Rosamond and the exotic Clematis Josephine.   All three bloomed beautifully with showy large blossoms.

But the color of the blooms on Will Baron was a startling electric blue-violet, which is so difficult to capture in photos.   Oddly, I was able to get closer to the true color when I took a photo from the back of the blooms.   Photos taken from the front always show too much purple and not enough blue.  To see what I mean, check out the two photos of Clematis Will Baron below.  I will be taking a photography class at the Hardy Plant Society Conference in Bellevue, WA, in a few weeks.  Hopefully, I learn how to bring out the true colors of garden plants.

In the meantime, I will be attending the International Clematis Conference in the Philadelphia next week.  I am so PSYCHED!  Expect a full report.

C. Will Baron, a little too purply

C. Will Baron, a little too purply

 

C. Will Baron from the back -- now THAT'S more like it!

C. Will Baron from the back — now THAT’S more like it!

 

Other Clematis Showing Off in the Garden

Take a look at some of the other clematis beginning to bloom in my garden.  Who knows, maybe one of these will get the June title!  Not too long ago, I counted up my clematis by pruning group and discovered that 80% of my clematis were in pruning group 3.  Well, now, there is a very good reason for that.  Most of the pruning-group-3 clematis are so floriferous AND easy to prune.  But over the past couple of years, I have made concerted effort to bring in more clematis from the other two pruning groups.  What a joy to have so many more clematis blooming from March through June.  I love it!  But the late bloomers are still my favorites.  Which are your favorites?

Clematis Cezanne

Clematis Cezanne

Clematis Rebecca

Clematis Rebecca

Clematis Climador

Clematis Climador

 

Clematis Duchess of Edinburgh

Clematis Duchess of Edinburgh

Wow!  The VERY Early First Blossoms of Etoile Violette

Wow! The VERY Early First Blossoms of Etoile Violette

Clematis Omoshiro

Clematis Omoshiro

 

Clematis Tartu Beginning to Open It's First Blossom

Clematis Tartu Beginning to Open It’s First Blossom

Durn, C. Tartu wilted the very next day!

Durn, C. Tartu wilted the very next day!

Clematis The First Lady

Clematis The First Lady

Clematis Versailles

Clematis Versailles

Clematis Vyvyan Pennell

Clematis Vyvyan Pennell

Clematis Fugimusume

Clematis Fugimusume

The Early First Flower of Clematis Ville de Lyon

The Early First Flower of Clematis Ville de Lyon

Clematis ‘Guernsey Cream’ and the Clematis montanas Enter the Fray

Saturday morning, my Clematis ‘Guernsey Cream’ began it’s show — once again, the first large-flowered clematis to open in my garden.  This year the blooms came more than a week earlier than last year.  Lovely whenever it blooms!

The first blossom of Guernsey Cream -- just opening

The first blossom of C. ‘Guernsey Cream’ — just opening

Guernsey Cream, Fully Open

C. ‘Guernsey Cream’, Fully Open

A cluster of Guernsey Cream blooms just two days later

A cluster of C. ‘Guernsey Cream’ blooms just two days later

Yesterday, Clematis ‘Will Baron’ showed its first blossom,
but it was hidden inside the tangle of vines.

Clematis Will Baron, acting shy

C. ‘Will Baron’, acting shy

 I think the next to bloom will be Clematis Josephine.
Here it is in luscious bud.

C. Josephine showing off her fat buds.

C. Josephine showing off her fat buds.

Yesterday, I looked UP and realized my Clematis montana ‘Vera’ was blooming about 40′ up in its support system — a 90′ Port Orford Cedar!  Very difficult to get a good photo when the flowers are so far up, especially without a telephoto lens.  I hear they have lens attachments for smart phones now.  I’ll have to look into it.

C. 'Vera' up the tree

To make up for the poor quality of the C. montana photo above, I am adding photos of two beautiful Clematis montana I encountered in the last week or so.

My daughter Mireille's C. montana

My daughter Mireille’s sweet  C. montana

An unknown C. montana I saw today in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle.  Beautiful!

An unknown C. montana I snapped today in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle. Beautiful!

My Clematis recta purpurea is not blooming  yet, but the rich purple leaves and stems are certainly putting on a show!

Oh, the rich purple leaves of C. recta purpurea!

Oh, the richly colored leaves of C. recta purpurea!

 Are your clematis starting to bloom, too?

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?

Get Out the Clippers! It’s Clematis Pruning Time in Seattle.

Yikes!  C. Will Baron is a MESS and growing fast.

Yikes! C. Will Baron is a MESS and growing fast.

Even though I pruned most of my summer-blooming clematis last fall, I have many spring bloomers in dire need of pruning now.  Lately, here in Seattle we’ve had RAIN RAIN RAIN and the ground is soggy and sloppy!  I know, I know, Seattle is supposed to be rainy but we got spoiled with a long dry spell earlier in the winter.   Clematis Will Baron, above, has become a serious rat’s nest that certainly needs my help.  This one has been in the ground for going on 10 years and has overwhelmed its partner, the rose ‘Buff Beauty’, which I have not been able to prune much in two years.  This clematis is ready for a radical renovation!

My plan of attack is to cut out the three really old canes at ground level (see photo below), then slowly work my way up to prune and gently pull the rest of these old canes out bit by bit.  This should clear up the mess and allow the three newer canes to take over and grow more politely with the rose, which I will finally get to prune.

I'll remove to two old peeling canes and keep the three younger ones.

I’ll remove to two old peeling canes and keep the three younger ones.

All the while, I can think of the lovely lavender-blue clematis that will bloom with the peachy roses of Buff Beauty in June.

Clematis 'Will Baron' with Rosa 'Buff Beauty' in June

Clematis ‘Will Baron’ with Rosa ‘Buff Beauty’ in June

Between raindrops a few days ago, I managed to prune Clematis Fair Rosamund.  The clematis of Pruning Group B (or 2) require fiddly pruning, a little like detailing a car –  very time-consuming.  The finished product you see below took me about three hours.

C. Fair Rosamond, freshly pruned

C. Fair Rosamond, freshly pruned

But in a very few months when I see the beautiful white blossoms tinged in pink with dark red anthers, I’ll be glad I took the time.  And it’s fragrant, to boot!

Clematis Fair Rosamond

Clematis Fair Rosamond

Clematis Talk This Saturday (March 8) at 12:30pm at Sky Nursery

If you live in Greater Seattle and would like to learn more about pruning and caring for clematis, I’ll be speaking at Sky Nursery, just north of Seattle, on Saturday March 8, 12:30pm.  This is part of PlantAmnesty’s Fifth Annual Prune-a-thon at Sky Nursery.  There will be eight free pruning talks (clematis, roses, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, Japanese maples, and more) plus free 15-minute mini garden designs from professional designers for all comers!  Come on down!

PlantAmnesty’s Prune-a-thon at Sky Nursery
Intersection of Aurora Ave N and N 185th St in Shoreline
Saturday, March 8, 9am – 4pm
Click here for more details.

Clematis Garden Tour in Portland

I know it’s late notice, but . . .

Clematis Garden Tour in Portland!

When: Saturday, May 25, 10am – 4pm

Where: five gardens in SW Portland, as well as the Rogerson Clematis Collection’s clematis display gardens and nursery nearby at Luscher Farm in Lake Oswego.

Fee: $20

Click here for more info, including how to get tickets.

I am so sorry that I didn’t tell you all sooner about this! My life has been crazy lately.

I attend the fabulous Rogerson Clematis tour every year — it’s always on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend. Attendees see gorgeous gardens that demonstrate how to use clematis effectively in home garden situations. Plus the Rogerson Clematis Collection (in Lake Oswego, just south of Portland) will be selling clematis — and, believe me, they have some unusual ones! One of the gardens will also be selling plants. And, if you have time, both Joy Creek Nursery and Cistus Nursery are nearby.

So if you don’t have anything planned for Saturday, make it a day trip, or even stay overnight in Portland. I am!!

Clematis Blooming in My Garden

Clematis Guernsey Cream

Clematis Guernsey Cream

Clematis montana Vera -- 40' up a 90' Port Orford Cedar!

Clematis montana Vera — 40′ up a 90′ Port Orford Cedar!

Clematis Will Baron with Rosa mutabilus

Clematis Will Baron with Rosa mutabilus

Clematis Crystal Fountain, aka Clematis Fairy Blue

Clematis Crystal Fountain, aka Clematis Fairy Blue

Clematis Josephine, just opening

Clematis Josephine, just opening

Clematis Fair Rosamond

Clematis Fair Rosamond

Clematis Asao

Clematis Asao

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