It’s that time of year again: A time of colors and scents. The unintended Clematis Montana (Clematis Montana var Rubens) proves itself of worthy for any garden again even though it blooms only once a year. I can hardly see it’s leaves this spring. The pool fence is covered with the beautiful pink flowers and it has attempted to climb up the patio roof. We are still debating whether the scent is chocolate or vanilla. Either way, I have an urge to eat the flowers every time I smell them. I will be giving it a crew cut this year since it has been taking over other plants space. Guilt ridden just thinking about cutting it but for everybody’s benefit (plant-wise) it needs to be done.
I’ve been doing my best to create a garden that have flowers from early spring to late fall, both day and night. It’s getting there but I don’t know when I’ll finish. I’m not going to beat myself up for it since a true garden will never be done anyway; it just evolves. I don’t remember who proclaimed that but it’s a comfort to know that someone out there has the same mentality.
Flowering plants for late spring to early summer are the easiest to find, but there are not that many choices for early spring and late fall. There are even less selections when it comes to vines. A few years ago I looked for vines or rambling roses to cover our less than attractive, chain link pool fence, hoping to give us some privacy. I found Clematis ‘Sweet Autumn’ (Clematis turniflora) in one of the catalogues and ordered two of them. One of them turned out to be something that I didn’t expect…a Clematis ‘Montana’ (Clematismontana var. rubens). This is one rare moment I don’t regret getting the wrong merchandise in the mail.
The Clematis ‘Sweet Autumn’ really lives up to its name. When it blooms it is flooded with small, lightly fragrant white flowers as soon as the temperature drops in September. We have it climbing up to the patio roof so it looks like there is snow covering that corner of the roof. It can grow to 30 feet in a season. I prune it down to the main branch every spring but it grows right back up the roof by mid summer. Here how it looks by early September…..
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..
Spring wouldn’t be complete without the Clematis Montana (Clematis montana var.Rubens) blooming. A sea of pale pink flowers draped on the pool fence and so crowded we can hardly see their leaves. Not just the beautiful delicate flowers that make the Montana the desired climber for cottage gardens, but also its fragrance that is so breathtaking. It is a mix of vanilla and chocolate that perfumes the garden in spring for a month. In May, the lilacs at the corner of the toolshed pass the fragrance baton to the Montana who, in the next couple of weeks, will pass it to Ms. Kim Lilac at the corner of the pool deck.
We have the Montana by accident, by the way. I ordered two Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora) years ago in hopes of having some flowers that would keep the garden fragrant in fall and early winter. I planted them not far from one another. A year later, the one on the pool fence bloomed pink – and in spring! I knew then it’s not a Sweet Autumn, but what? After doing some research, I found that it’s a Clematis Montana. No complaint here, just surprise, and even more surprised when it did really well in our garden. As far as I know, we’re not supposed to be able to grow the Montana in our zone; it’s too cold for this cultivar. A vender in the city assured me of as much.
Now, its bloom becomes something we wait for every spring. It can grow to 30 feet and grab everything in its path. I will have to prune it a little bit this spring after the bloom fades, to keep it to one side of the fence. I never have to take care of it, aside from mulching once a year. The down side is that it only blooms in spring, then we have to wait for another ten months. It is worth the wait though.