Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Clematis Status

It's late March and there is still plenty of snow on the ground which is taking its SWEET time to melt. I'm suffering from a bad case of spring fever, and no way to scratch the garden itch yet. I'll try to tide myself over here with some catch-up posts from last season.

I've been slowly adding to my clematis collection, and very pleased with how the plants are progressing so far. Two of my two-year olds shot up tall and bloomed profusely last year:

Etoile Violette - this is a VERY dark purple. Perhaps too dark - the color recedes too much for my taste in the garden, especially against the brown fence :-( However, it is a healthy viticella type and a robust grower.

Clematis 'Etoile Violette'


In its second year in my garden it grew to the top of the privacy fence and began swirling around the corner a bit. My hope is to eventually train it laterally in a big swathe heading in both directions at the top. (And maybe I should paint the fence a lighter color to make the flower color stand out more??)

Clematis 'Etoile Violette'


Mrs. Robert Brydon is an herbaceous, non-climbing type of clematis with unusual large leaves. This past year it grew quite big - not so much tall as wide and bushy - but I managed to harness it to this trellis and lash it to the railing of my deck. I must have gone through several balls of twine to keep this baby in place.

Chunky leaves of clematis 'Mrs. Robert Brydon' beginning to climb the trellis in June

By late August it was absolutely covered in small, starry blue flowers and buzzing with bees. I really liked the effect, although it was a bit of work to keep tying the stems up higher and higher. This plant definitely would prefer to sprawl downwards. But in the end we could see the grand floral display from both the upper and lower levels of the deck, so it does work well in this spot for us.

Clematis 'Mrs. Robert Brydon'. You can see the twine in this picture!


My other viticella hybrid, Blekitny Aniol, increased somewhat in size this past year (its second year in my garden as well), but still seems tentative about its new home.

Clematis 'Blekitny Aniol', with lilies and a sea of rhubarb at its feet

Part of the problem may be that the squirrels have taken to using its trellis as a ladder, and sometimes accidentally break stems in their vigorous scrambling. Still, I do like the soft lavender color of the flowers and am hoping this year will see a burst of energy from this one. This one and Etoile Violette both bloom at the end of June into early July in my garden.

Clematis 'Blekitny Aniol' (Blue Angel)


The surprise clematis hit of the season was the clematis tangutica 'Bill MacKenzie'. Since it was newly planted in the spring, I did not expect it to do much or to really bloom at all. This clematis knocked my out of the park by growing up to the top of the privacy fence and then continuing along in an attractive horizontal sweep.

Clematis tangutica  'Bill MacKenzie'

It was absolutely covered in small, cheery yellow lanterns from September until October, gradually followed by fabulous, Dr. Seuss-like poofballs (seedheads). The foliage has an narrow, ferny elegance which nicely complements the blooms.

Clematis tangutica 'Bill MacKenzie'

The seedheads persisted through the winter and made a great contribution to the winter landscape. This plant supposedly gets very large - up to 20 feet or so. I am hoping it will eventually wind its way horizontally along the top of my fence. The birds seems to really enjoy this clematis - the seeds must be tasty snacks.

Clematis tangutica 'Bill MacKenzie' - seedpods in winter


My other newly-planted clematis, Cardinal Wyszynski, did not bloom in its first year (not surprisingly). I have plans to add more clematis near some of my larger roses and other shrubs, once I've given them a bit more of a head start. There are so many varieties to choose from, it's going to be hard!

12 comments:

  1. You have lovely collection of clematis, Rebecca!
    I love this one on the first photo: this color is wonderful! I have light blue clematis and would like to purchase one like yours!

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  2. Such lovely garden! I will be following the changes in your garden and I'm addind your blog to my reading list!

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  3. Nice collection of healthy clematis! Spring in Wisconsin... ain't it great?!! Right...

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  4. So many lovely varieties - it's hard to choose the most beautiful one!

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  5. I like your choice of Clematis Rebecca as these are the ones which can be cut back hard in early Spring or late Winter over here. Gives the chance to treat the trellis with preservative if necessary. The pale blue Viticella Blekitny Aniol looks very much like one which is named Blue Angel in the UK.,

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    1. Hi Alistair, Yes, Blekitny Aniol is Blue Angel in Polish so they're the same variety! I only grow the type 3 clematis (the ones you prune back hard) because they're easier, and also more reliably hardy up here in the frigid north :-) (The blooms of the type 2s often get frost damage over winter.) I wish I could grow the type 2s - there are so many fabulous Japanese ones that make me drool.

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  6. my poor Clematis has been quietly abandoned, as the jasmine I planted next to it at the same time has exploded. In the next garden we have 2 huge star jasmine, but I will make a happy space for our indigenous clematis. Traveller's Joy.

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    1. Well, if there's anything that has a right to take over clematis it's certainly jasmine! Now if only that were hardy this far north. I couldn't even grow one in a pot. I'd do anything for that fragrance.

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  7. You have quite the collection started. I am trying my hand at growing a herbaceous, non-climbing variety from seed this spring for the first time. I hope mine has as pretty a color of flowers as the one you have. I find the climbers take a good few years to really get going. Hopefully yours will be up the support and along the fence this year just as you have envisioned they should.

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    1. Hi Jennifer - I tried growing an herbaceous clematis from seed once, but no luck on germination. (I even wintersowed, which usually works for me!) I gave up too easily and just broke down and bought a plant. Hopefully you will have more luck with your clematis seed! They are supposed to be quite easy to grow from seed (just not for me).

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  8. Your 'Etoile Violette' is lovely, I looked at many blogs last year for a blue or blue/purple clematis, and finally I ended up with ‘Mon Amour’ – can’t wait to see it in flower for the first time this summer! And your Clematis tangutica 'Bill MacKenzie' is lovely too, good you have space for such a big clematis, I have Clematis armandii 'Apple Blossom', another big, evergreen clematis and I have no idea where I should let it grow from now on!

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    1. Sounds lovely Helene! You could let your clematis ramble up the fence and block out the view of neighbor's trash cans :-)

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