Witch Hazels’ in Bloom — Can Spring Be Far Behind?

20140131_162405Witch hazels’ are bursting into bloom all over Seattle, warming my heart and turning my thoughts to spring.  I have so many gardening chores lined up!  General cleanup, adding 25 or 30 new clematis to my drip system, sifting compost, weeding, pruning, and so on and so forth and scooby dooby do dah.  But it’s COLD out there!  I have become such a wimp since moving to Seattle from Boston nearly 10 years ago.  I just CAN’T work in the garden temperatures in the 30s any more.  Of course, in Boston, I couldn’t even consider any serious gardening until late March or April — February and March are statistically the biggest snow months there.  Don’t get me wrong, though, I loved living in Boston.  But I love gardening in Seattle more!  Zone 8-9 instead of Zone 6 and I can garden off and on all year round.  When I first came here, I had no idea what half the plants in the nurseries even were.  Phormium, abelia, enkianthus, choisyea, sarcoccocca–never heard of them.  Hardy fuchsias?  What a concept!

What with flowers blooming and the Northwest Flower & Garden Show just around the corner (February 5 -9), I will have spring fever for sure!

Clematis armandii Already Showing Flower Buds!

Emerging flower buds on Clematis armandii

Emerging flower buds on Clematis armandii

Check out the photo of the flower buds I saw yesterday on a Clematis armandii!  Wooo HOOOO!

Clematis recta Serious Black (aka Clematis recta Lime Close)

Clematis recta 'Purpurea' -- very similar to Clematis recta Serious Black.

Clematis recta ‘Purpurea’ — very similar to Clematis recta Serious Black.

Many thanks to my reader Sarah for letting us know that Wayside Gardens is now offering Clematis recta Serious Black via mail order!  You may remember that last year around this time, there was a big kerfuffle about this wonderful clematis with near-black leaves and small fragrant white flowers in summer. The plant is also known as Clematis recta Lime Close, Lime Close being the name of the garden in England where the plant was originally discovered. A small article in Fine Gardening magazine noted that this plant, a difficult one to find in the US, was available through the Northwest Perennial Alliance (NPA).  Turns out that the plant was available through NPA via seed rather than as a plant.  A short time later, at last year’s Northwest Flower & Garden Show, I discovered and blogged that one of the vendors there was selling bare-root versions of Clematis recta Serious Black. I think some of you were able to score one or two (I certainly did).

If you didn’t get one last year, get yourself one from Wayside Gardens this year!  There are so many ways that black plants can add contrast and depth to a garden. This clematis gets about 4 – 6′ tall.  It doesn’t climb, so it needs support or can be allowed to scramble around and through other plants.  The photo here is of a very similar plant, Clematis recta purpurea.

News Flash: Clematis Serious Black FOUND!

Sundquist Nursery Label for Clematis Serious Black

Sundquist Nursery Label for Clematis Serious Black

Update! If you didn’t get a chance to get to the Northwest Flower & Garden Show in February to pick up your own Clematis Serious Black, all is not lost! Nils Sundquist of Sundquist Nursery — the nursery that was selling Clematis Serious Black at the Show — will also be selling this plant at his Garden Opens on the Kitsap Penninsula. See Nis’ comment below!

While wandering around the Northwest Flower & Garden Show today, enjoying the sites and feeding my need for spring, I asked each of the plant vendors I ran up on whether they carried clematis.  Several were selling Clematis armandii and one even had a couple of New Zealand clematis.  But when I stopped by Sundquist Nursery late in the day, I hit PAYDIRT!   Sundquist Nursery is selling bare-root plants of — drum roll, please — Clematis recta ‘Lime Close’, aka Clematis Serious Black!   

Oh, those lovely little roots!

Oh, those lovely little roots!

To learn more about this very interesting non-climbing clematis that sports  black (well, almost black) leaves, see my earlier post on the subject.  Clematis Serious Black was recently featured in Fine Gardening magazine, but the source mentioned for the plant (the Northwest Perennial Alliance) carries only seed.  As luck would have it, if you can get  yourself (or send a friend) to the Flower Show between now and Sunday (2/24) at the Convention Center in downtown Seattle, you too can have a bare-root plant of Clematis Serious Black of your very own (I  already bought mine!).  $12!!!  The box I found mine in seemed to have 15 or 20 more, so hurry on down!

Come See Me at the Northwest Flower & Garden Show

A Gold-Winner at the 2012 Northwest Flower & Garden Show

A Gold-Winner at the 2012 Northwest Flower & Garden Show

Did you know that the Northwest Flower & Garden Show, which opened Wednesday, 2/20,  in downtown Seattle at the Convention Center and runs through Sunday, 2/24, is the second largest Flower Show in the US (second only to Philadelphia)?  And it’s the third largest in the world (the Chelsea Flower Show in England, of course, being the biggest of all)!  So get on  down to the Convention Center and get your spring fever on!  I sure will.

This year I will be volunteering at the show for PlantAmnesty on Wednesday, for the Master Gardeners on Thursday, and then on Friday — taDAAA — I will be a first-time speaker at the Flower Show on the topic of (big surprise here) CLEMATIS!  Come by and hear me shed light on the Care and Pruning of Clematis, the Queen of Climbers. 

Friday, February 22, 7pm in the Hood Room at the Show. 

If you have an interest in hearing me speak about clematis but can’t make it on Friday, I will be speaking again on Saturday, March 2nd, at 11am at Sky Nursery — for PlantAmnesty’s fourth annual Prune-a-Thon.

Guess what!  I found a clematis blooming in my garden this morning!  I’ll tell  you about it very soon.

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