Tag Archives: clematis montana var. Rubens

Clematis Montana

Blooms But Once A Year And It’s Worth It

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.

A great spot for having coffee in the morning or a glass of wine at dusk
A great spot for having coffee in the morning or a glass of wine at dusk
Clematis 'Montana' after the rain
Clematis ‘Montana’ after the rain
Making its ascent to the patio roof after climbing over the Abelia
Making its ascent to the patio roof after climbing over the Abelia
A cluster by the fence
A cluster by the fence

Clematis ‘Sweet Autumn’

Snow in Fall

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’ (Clematis montana 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…..

Plenty of flowers, hardly see leaves
Climbs right to the corner of the patio roof
With dewey petals in early morning

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.

Clematis Montana

Flood of flowers and fragrance

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.

A sea of pink with a heavenly scent

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.

Up close

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.