A PLANT THAT FLOWERS FOR 12 MONTHS OF THE YEAR
Ask me “What is your favourite plant” and my reply is CLEMATIS. Why? Well within this plant genus there is a variety that will be in flower every week of the year. They come in all the rainbow colours and flower prolifically. Many have a lovely scent, grow as ground cover, over an obelisk, in a pot on the patio, climb up walls or pergolas, scramble over other plants or eyesores or as a perennial plant in the herbaceous border.
In January we see Clematis clarkeana Winter Beauty an evergreen variety with creamy lime green buds in December followed by sparkling snow white bell flowers with a tremendous scent in January to March. Plant it next to your front door enjoy it whenever you return home.
Clematis cartmannii Joe is a delightful small evergreen to grow on a small obelisk in a pot on the patio. It has fern like foliage and is covered in pearly white scented flowers from February to April.
Clematis Alpina and Clematis Macropetala greet spring in March and flower until May. Both species have an abundance of harebell flowers and varieties of various colours from creamy white to pink to lilac and blue. Recommendations are Clematis Alpina Columbine, blue, and Clematis Macropetela Markham’s Pink.
In April we see the rampant evergreen Clematis Armandii Apple Blossom or Snowdrift which will quickly cover a pergola while May heralds Clematis Montana equally as vigorous. Varieties like Miss Christine, pearly white, and Freda, bright pink which will hide a garden shed with its profusion of sweetly scented flowers.
Most hybrid Clematis will flower from June onwards throughout summer. The list is endless but a couple of recommendations are Lincoln Star, pink and white, Lady Northcliff, blue, Rhapsody, purple, and Olympia, mauve, which is excellent in a pot on the patio. In July we are treated in the herbaceous border to the long blue clusters of Clematis Heracleifolia Stans and on a sunny fence Clematis florida Sieboldia with gorgeous purple centres.
Clematis jouiniana Praecox is ideal ground cover when planted in a bed of bush roses. The delightful bluish flowers appear before the second flowering of the roses. In September as autumn approaches so do the brilliant yellow flowers of Clematis Golden Tiara, Tangutica and Orientalis Bill Mackenzie which continues to flower into October.
In November and December Clematis cirrhosa Freckles and Advent Bells are a delight to see in the dark dank winter months with cream bell shaped flowers with maroon markings.
There are varieties suitable for sunny and shady situations and patio tubs. Climbing Clematis need support to scramble on which can be wires, trellis, pergolas or other plants. If you are growing a patio variety in a tub use a metal or willow obelisk which makes a decorative feature. Varieties that do well in containers are Cezanne, blue, Chantilly, white, Oh La La, pink with a darker pink stripe, and Rebecca, red.
Here are some cultural tips to help you grow Clematis well. The summer flowering Hybrid Clematis are the varieties that need some special attention when planted. Cut the top growth back by half before planting. Dig a hole three times the volume of the container in which it is growing and twice the depth. Remove the pot and place the clematis in the hole. Fill with a planting compost containing lots of peat. This will bury the lower part of the stem and protect it from surface damage which can cause the plant to wilt.
Hybrid Clematis like lots of water about 5 litres every few days and regular feeding with liquid tomato food to promote flowering. Check the pruning regime on the label provided with your plant. They are available in a vast range of colours with flowers the size and shape of dinner plates to discreet small stars.
The specie and herbaceous varieties are easier to grow and only require to be planted in rich peaty soil.
There are so many wonderful varieties within the Clematis genus this is just a taste to encourage you to grow my most favourite plant in your garden.