Winter: Planning Time

Winter is a great time to sit back and enjoy the emptiness in the garden. Our garden is not quite empty since I left a lot of seed heads intact for the birds and insects. Some brush piles for them to take refuge in from the cold, situate here and there. Still, it’s much emptier than during the growing season.

Winter is also a time for planning the next phase of the garden. Plant catalogs start to pack our mailbox. I’ve been mindful of what I select for the garden, one or two new plants a year and they have to be multipurpose. Aside from looking good in the garden, it has to be a food source for birds or insects. Native to northeastern part of the U.S. is a plus. Otherwise it has to grow vertically like all the climbers and ramblers.

Those who have limited space like us would understand that last reason for choosing plants that grow upward rather than outward. This is the reason we added clematis to our garden. Clematis can grow on a trellis, mailbox or entwine on shrubs or roses. We have planted five different clematis so far but I would recommend only three of them.

Clematis ‘Betty Corning’ on a trellis with ‘Sundrop’ to the left

Betty Corning‘ produce hundreds of small lavender flowers with a slight scent. The flowers look like small bells swaying in the wind. Bumblebees love them. This clematis seems to bloom forever once it starts to bloom. Ours bloom from late May to September. I cut it down to a foot and a half in late winter and feed it. Throughout the growing season, I keep cutting the spent flowers off so it will continue to produce new flowers.

‘Ville de Lyon’ produces plenty of deep red flowers

Clematis ‘Ville de Lyon‘ is another clematis with a long blooming time. Though it’s less dense than ‘Betty Corning’, it has bigger flowers which can make a trellis disappear underneath. The bright red petals get even redder in the rain. I cut the dead stems off in early spring (when I see no new buds sprouting from that stem). I also cut the unruly, overgrown stems off as well.

‘Crystal Fountain’ produces a very big flower with lighter color fringes in the middle

We have ‘Crystal Fountain‘ clematis growing up a trellis and entwined with ‘Himalayan Musk’ rose. It makes a really good statement with very large flowers, plenty of them.

I plan to add one more clematis in the garden this spring, maybe another yellow or white. I want to add more colors to the garden without taking up too much space and clematis seems to be a perfect choice.

Rose Companions

Enhanced Beauty

I want our garden to resemble a natural environment as much as possible but the roses don’t seem to quite fit.  I try to incorporate roses in the garden anyway.  I love roses and I think any garden without roses is not a complete garden.  Any readers who don’t like roses and think that they are a pain to take care of, please do not take offense.  It’s just my personal take on it.

There are periods, before the roses bloom in late spring and in between blooming (for the re-bloomers) when there are nothing to see but green leaves.  I need plants to give some color to the trellises and the area adjacent to the rose bushes.  There are a few plants I found that work well for our garden and make the garden look more natural.

The first choice, as recommended by many professional gardeners, is Clematis.  They intertwine with rose branches and flower here and there between them.  For mid-spring, Clematis ‘Crystal Fountain’ is really lovely.

Clematis ‘Crystal Fountain’ blooming right next to the Rosa Rugosa ‘Foxi’ and Paul’s Himalayan Musk on the trellis, that was still budding

Clematis ‘Betty Corning’ takes the trellis next to the Rose ‘Eden’. It blooms for months if deadhead. It’s also lightly fragrant.

Clematis ‘Belle of Woking’ with Rose ‘Knockout’ and peony

White peony with Rose ‘Knockout’

Peony is another good companion for roses. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten the name of the white one above.  But the flowers large and quite fragrant.

This peony came with the house so I don’t know the name. I just divided them and tucked them here and there.

Iris is also a good rose companion. This one is right next to the Rose ‘Jewel Topaz’ which is still budding.

A new wave of rose buds have started to emerge now, not as profuse as in late spring.  I’ll keep seeking rose companions and in the meantime, the echinacea and garden phlox are in full bloom.

 

 

Late Spring Garden

Best Time Of The Season

I love spring time.  There is a lot of work to do in the garden in spring in order to keep up with the fast growing plants but it’s the best time of year, in my opinion anyway.  When the weather gets gradually warmer, plants follow accordingly and they are much easier to keep up with.   This year the weather has been temperamental.  It has gone up to 80° F for a few days then dropped down to low 40° F.  When the temperature hit 80 degree, plants in the garden shot up really fast only to be stunned by a suddenly cooler temperature later.  I have to put down a plan to widen the walkway.  That entails moving some plants out of the way.  It will have to wait until next year since the plants are now too tall for me to safely transplant them.

We lost some plants we really love to the harsh winter but what’s left in the garden hasn’t disappointed us.  Color and scents throughout the garden.

Clematis 'Crystal Fountain' produces abundant flowers this year
Clematis ‘Crystal Fountain’ produces abundant flowers this year

Rose 'Knockout' in the foreground with clematis 'Belle of Woking' and rose 'Zephirine Drouhin' in the background
Rose ‘Knockout’ in the foreground with clematis ‘Belle of Woking’ and rose ‘Zephirine Drouhin’ in the background

White Woodland Phlox migles with Forget-Me-Not
White Woodland Phlox migles with Forget-Me-Not

Bright red oriental poppy among white daisy
Bright red oriental poppy among white daisy

More oriental poppy in salmon color
More oriental poppy in salmon color

Rose 'Eden' and Clematis 'Betty Corning'
Rose ‘Eden’ and Clematis ‘Betty Corning’

Clematis

Companion Plants

Growing roses without growing clematis is almost a crime. They are supposed to be great companions for one another.  It’s not the term I normally use but this is what I read in gardening books and websites.  I can confirm this information as accurate having now grown a few kinds of clematis with roses.  Lucky that I didn’t try to grow the Clematis ‘Montana’ (Clematis Montana var. rubens) and Clematis ‘Sweet Autumn’ (Clematis terniflora) with any roses.  They are very unruly, very fast growers and would have suffocated the roses.  They are better standing alone or climbing a tree.

What we have in the garden seems to work well with the roses.  It’s the type that grows 8 to 10 feet high like the clematis pictured below.

The clematis ‘Crystal Fountain’ is lovely next to the ‘Paul’s Himalayan Musk’ rose.  There were more flowers in late spring, but now just a scant few blooms here and there.

Lined up Clematis 'Crystal Fountain' at the base of Paul's Himalayan Musk rose
Lined up Clematis ‘Crystal Fountain’ at the base of Paul’s Himalayan Musk rose

Crystal Fountain close up
Crystal Fountain close up

We grow Clematis ‘Belle of Woking’ on the opposite side of Rose ‘Blaze’ on a trellis.  They seem to do well together especially when the ‘Belle of Woking’ flowers are fully opened and turn from lavender to almost white in color before the petals drop.

Clematis 'Belle of Woking' next to a 'Blaze' rose
Clematis ‘Belle of Woking’ next to a ‘Blaze’ rose

Belle of woking close up
Belle of woking close up

We added the Clematis ‘Betty Corning’ (Clematis viticella) to the garden planted near the ‘Eden’ rose last year.  It has proved to be perfect.  Though it is a fast grower, it’s very well behaved and produces plenty of little lavender colored flowers with a faint fragrance.

Clematis 'Betty Corning' next to the newly sprouted 'Eden' rose
Clematis ‘Betty Corning’ next to the newly sprouted ‘Eden’ rose

Betty Corning close up
Betty Corning close up

Most of the clematis flowers have faded away by now.  Although the ‘Betty Corning’ is still producing flower buds.  I did add another clematis this year after I realized that, except for the Montana and Sweet Autumn, all the clematis in the garden have bloomed in a similar shade of lavender.  So I added Clematis ‘Rubromarginata’ (Clematis x triternata) which is supposed to produce small cream colored flowers with a violet edge, with an almond scent.  Let’s see how it turns out.

Spring Recap

An End And A Beginning

Spring has come and gone and somewhat unevenly too.  The gap between day and night temperatures was very wide for some time, then a continuously pouring rain for several days.  During the 70 to 85 degrees days, the plants shot up,  leaves peeking out and flowers budding only to be knocked back by very cold nights.  Vegetables, except for the tomatoes and chili peppers, love this kind of weather but the roses had their blooms battered and washed off and their leaves have developed black spots.  I’m not really complaining since our house is still standing and our garden remains intact.  Mother nature is still kind to us.

Now summer is officially here but the rain continues.  In the next five days the prediction is for heavy storms or scattered thunder storms. In the meantime the summer flowers and insects are taking their turn while spring has faded slowly away.  This is how spring has unfolded in our garden so far.

Oriental poppy among Sea foam and Columbine
Oriental poppy among Sea foam and Columbine

A lone Clematis 'Crystal Fountain' blooms in the middle of Paul's Himalayan Musk rose
A lone Clematis ‘Crystal Fountain’ blooms in the middle of Paul’s Himalayan Musk rose

Multiple Hover flys on the Alyssum
Multiple Hover flys on the Alyssum

This pink Azalea still blooms after the rest of our Azaleas have gone
This pink Azalea still blooms after the rest of our Azaleas have gone

Companion Plants

Rose and Clematis

When I first planted roses in our garden.  I didn’t realize that many local area roses bloom only once a year.  Where I came from, roses bloom year-round.  I didn’t want to dig the once-bloomers out.  Nor did I think my ignorance should be an excuse to foreshorten their lives.  Besides they’ve never missed producing beautiful fragrant flowers every summer, albeit, once only.  Alternative?  Find companion plants that will entwine themselves among the existing roses and produce continued color for the rest of the season.  Most garden books recommended Clematis…and I eagerly followed the recommendation.

These fast growing vines are doing their job pretty effectively.  Some of them are growing too fast for me, the Montana for instance, and I still have a lot to learn about pruning them.  But so far, they are just fascinating vines in all shapes, colors and fragrances.  Here are some of the early bloomers..

Belle of Woking with a little red rose bud-Blaze in the background.

Beautiful lavender Belle

Little frills with a fountain in the middle

Crystal Fountain with a little glimpse of Rosa Rugosa-Foxy

Montana-one of the fragrant clematis we have.

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