June 2, 2010

Limp Handkerchiefs

Clematis, like roses, are a world unto themselves.  So many varieties.  So much advice (three pruning groups!)  Diseases and wilts.  Wildly different forms and colors, how do you choose?  Groups and organizations and gardens and literature are all devoted to their complexities and appreciation.  Sweet Autumn clematis scared me, it was so rampant. Classic large flowered Polish clematis overwhelmed me; too intensely purple.

So, being timid and untutored, I stayed away from them.

Last year I finally made an attempt.  My first crack at clematis was an easy to grow variety called Clematis viticella 'Alba Luxurians', and it is easy.  I put it in late last year, and this spring it leaped to life, quickly covering a trellis in a wild spray of delicate foliage.  Easy.  It's group 3, so in late winter I can hack it back to a few buds just above the ground.  Simple.  I can do this.

It's a summer bloomer, but it started flowering in May.  As advertised, the blossoms are a delicate white, streaked with green.

They flutter facing downward, and they are unobtrusive (not big as platters and not tacky colored or flashy) The vine is covered with them, but you can't tell in the first photo from a few feet away.  You really have to enjoy them up close.

They remind me of limp handkerchiefs, but in a good way.  I like them.

I thought with a name that included "Luxurians" this clematis would be more substantial and weighty and look like money.  More of a show stopper without being purple.  Instead, it is delicate and fine, and the flowers really dangle, almost unseen, like wet tissues.

But it's my favorite, because I can grow clematis!

PS: update to my Garden Oops post from the first of the month:  I cut the odd colored baptisia stems and put them in a vase, and they are much much better looking indoors:
Aren't they?


  1. Magically, your baptisia looks much more purple indoors than out.

    Clematis scare me too, especially the wilt part.

  2. Wow, your clematis looks great! Did it really grow that much in one year? That's pretty exciting! My mother has been discouraging me from trying clematis until I've got most of the rest of the garden sorted away- I move things every chance I get at this phase and she figures I'll leave its bottom bare and kill it! Though she also generally discourages wasting time on Tea roses and I've just planted one of those... I kind of figure if I can get it in my garden for less than $20, I'll give just about anything a go! Perhaps when I'm more than a few years in I'll change my mind about that, though... : ) - Meg

  3. I have had good and bad luck with clematis. I can never remember the rules of pruning. I have to look them up yearly. UGH... My best performer ever is Jacamanni. I have split the original and have it in any place I need a tall filler. Your baptisia blooms look great in their vase.

  4. Sweet bay, you grow so many beautiful roses,you must be able to grow clematis!

    Meg, it really did fully grow from the ground up all in the months of April and May. I definitely think you should try one of the small flowered clematis in your garden!

    Lisa, I'll only plant the ones that get the hard pruning to the ground every winter (group 3)... I would also have to keep looking up the rules otherwise.

  5. Are you sure you're supposed to cut the clematis back? I have 1 that's growing up a copper thingy about 6 feet high. I've noticed in early spring that it leafs out on the old wood, so I've never pruned it.


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