Tag Archives: clematis

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.



Fooled By Nature

Spring Already?

Tomorrow, December 22 will be the official first day of winter but Mother Nature didn’t get the memo.  Day time temperature will be over 50° F for the next few days and night time will not be much lower than that.  In fact, in this area Christmas Eve is predicted to be 70° F during the day.

The sad part of this unseasonably warm winter is that plants and animals are fooled by it.  They base their life cycles on the seasonal temperature changes.  When it’s cold they hibernate or go dormant in order to conserve energy when food is hard to find.  But when it’s too warm bears will come out from hibernation.  Cherry trees will bloom in Brooklyn.  Our honeybees came out looking for food too.  Luckily they are domesticated so we feed them.  But what happens to the wild honeybees?  There are no flowers for then to get nectar or pollen from.

Aside from our bees, plants in our garden are also fooled by this weather.

Clematis 'Crystal Fountain' is budding
Clematis ‘Crystal Fountain’ is budding


Tree peony
Tree peony

I don’t know what this winter will turn out to be.  If the ‘rural legend’ of Wooly Bear caterpillars (Pyrrharctia isabella) hits the mark most of the time, this winter should be a warm winter.   According to the text in ‘Caterpillars of Eastern North America‘ by David L. Wagner, the legend says the width of the orange band can be used to predict the severity of the upcoming winter; the narrower the band, the colder the winter.

This Wooly Bear on my glove told me the winter will be pretty warm, see how wide the orange band is.  But maybe he was just stretching.

I found this Wooly Bear caterpillar in our garden this autumn. Cute little guy.
I found this Wooly Bear caterpillar in our garden this autumn. Cute little guy.

First Day of Summer

Welcomed With Heavy Rain

Today is the official first day of summer but the weather doesn’t seem to want to cooperate.  Morning started much cooler than summer should start with, then the rain arrived, pouring down and accompanied by strong winds.  Over all, it’s pretty wet and cool with sunshine peeking out here and there.

Tomatoes looked very unhappy being blown left and right and soaking wet.  Other plants and flowers perked up every time the sun came out.  They look so pretty with the water droplets hanging from their leaves and petals.

Clematis 'Betty Corning'
Clematis ‘Betty Corning’


Rose 'Himalayan Alba'
Rose ‘Himalayan Alba’




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’

Dependable Summer Plants (continued)

Still Blooming

Heading toward the end of summer when not many things are blooming whether because of high temperature, humidity, pouring rain or drought, there are still some diehard flowers that never disappoint me.  Garden Phlox, Black-eyed Susan, Echinacea and Alyssum just to name a few.  There are also some low growing shrubs and lovely weeds, yes weeds – that is what they are categorized.  I do let some weeds like Queen Anne’s lace and Goldenrod grow.  Not just because they are pretty but because my honey bees love them.

When I first grew Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata) years ago, I started with a couple of pink colored plants which are the most common.  Then added white ‘David’ and an orange whose name I no longer remember.  I let insects work their magic and now there is quite a large range of colors.  I also realized that growing one or two Garden Phlox won’t do much in terms of fragrance.  I couldn’t smell anything if I didn’t put my nose next to it.  Now it’s another story.  The whole garden is perfumed with a very subtle, soothing scent, which is more pronounced in the cool morning and evening air.  Next spring will be time to weed it down a bit since the plot is getting too crowded.  I tie a ribbon to the ones I plan to keep with a map of colors as a guide.  The duplicates will have to go.  I don’t know if there are any more colors out there but I still keep an eye out for them.

Pink Garden Phlox
Pink Garden Phlox

White and pink phlox
White and pink phlox

See more of the Garden Phlox that I added this year – Jenny- and the ones that our insect friends have created at AMAZINGSEASONS

Another flower that started to bloom in June and still blooms now is the Clematis ‘Betty Corning’.  In order to induce the vine to produce new flowers I cut the spent flowers off.  It has been a very meditative thing to do since there are so many of them but the result is worth it.

Clematis 'Betty Corning' keeps blooming through summer
Clematis ‘Betty Corning’ keeps blooming through summer

I also have Alyssum growing all over the place in both white ‘Carpet of Snow’  and purple ‘Royal Carpet’.  Their fragrance smells like honey and they draw in beneficial insects as well.

Alyssum 'Royal Carpet' a mix of mostly purple and white tiny flowers
Alyssum ‘Royal Carpet’ a mix of mostly purple and white tiny flowers

These Alyssum will last until frost.  I let them set seed so they will come back year after year.  I’ve blogged enough about Black-eyed Susan and Echinacea so I won’t mention them again here but my appreciation for their hardiness and their ‘never fail’ ability to provide colors in the garden is always there.

Sweet Autumn Clematis

Dependable For Late Season

It can grow more than 30 feet in a single season, climb and entwine on everything within its reach.  The UPS, FedEx and USPS people no longer drop shipments off on our patio since they are not sure they can go under the thick overhanging vine covering the walkway.  My fault!  I draped the young vine over the walkway without thinking of the resulting consequences.

I was describing our Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora).  It covers two sides of our patio, providing us with a green screen from summer to late fall.  Around late summer and early fall it is blanketed with small white, lightly fragrant flowers, lots of them.  The fragrance is much more pronounced when the temperature is on the cool side.  The flowers are so abundant that my neighbor thought I had covered part of our patio roof with a white cloth.  We sat outside enjoying the flowers and a little wine during the last full moon.  It was quite a show: a blanket of fragrant white flowers under the moonlight.  It was a wonderful way to unwind after a long day at work.

More pluses: It doesn’t require much care, just feed it and give it a good pruning once a year in spring.  The bees, butterflies and moths love it.   It also provides a hiding place for birds.  When there is not much else blooming late in the season, this clematis brings life as well as providing food.

Lots of small white fragrant flowers
Lots of small white fragrant flowers

Close up
Close up

Covering part of the patio roof on the pool deck side
Covering part of the patio roof on the pool deck side

On the walkway side
On the walkway side

There is a walkway to the patio, bottom left, that was reduced down to a four foot high gap.  This happened in just one season!