Gardening: Plant clematis and you'll soon be hooked on them

Torbay Weekly

For those of you with addictive personalities, I’d be minded to skip the column this week if you can resist it.

Guaranteed you will be hooked on growing clematis once you've caught the bug (not that one!).

We all grow affection for our gardens and whatever clematis you grow will have you looking forward to it flowering year after year.

Once they are established after about two years, they literally form a climbing wall of almost any colour you fancy across the spectrum.

Even better news is that you can get on and start planting them from their pots right now.

Like almost everything, as long as the ground isn’t frosty or waterlogged, it's ideal as the plants will be in their dormancy and it will give them a decent head start before they begin producing more shoots.

Despite looking like a mild zephyr would blow them over, clematis are, in fact, pretty tough plants.

Similar to Gary Cooper in High Noon, they are the strong silent type with a dashing edge to them.

As long as they have enough water in the first couple of formative years then they’re quite well adapted to any soil type.

Most people assume they love to climb up a wall and plant them immediately next to the wall where it can be too dry.

This will not help them so plant them just away from the wall where they can soak up some rainfall.

You might want to give them a mulch too.

Given there are so many varieties available, then which one is right for you?

It’s possible to have a clematis in flower all-year round if you have the mind set mentioned above but most people tend to have just one or two.

It’s a good idea to let them intertwine and contrast different colours.

I know one gardener who plans clematis flower to match their favourite football team’s shirt.

The all-year round flowering idea takes some planning and lots of dedication, or possibly an unhealthy obsession.

It is, however, entirely feasible to have them in flower from spring to late autumn.

The variety  C. armandii ‘Apple Blossom’ will bloom in spring and give you and the wildlife year-round foliage.

It’s also native to China and surprisingly named after the person who discovered the Giant Panda, interestingly enough.

It has deep pink buds that burst into white flowers with four petals and a yellow centre.

It is also fast growing and is ideal to hide a shed with, as many clematis are, and will grow happily over any garden structures.

For eye-catching summer flowers try ‘Tie Dye’. This is a new variety that flowers in abundance and is a violet colour with pretty white marbling and yellow in the central stamen.

After this you might be thinking towards autumn so I would look no further than C. orientalis which originates from Tibet and will offset the purple of the others by offering small Chinese lanterns in vivid yellow to burnished orange shades.

There is a clematis that’s native to Britain, and most people know it unflatteringly as ‘old mans beard’ or ‘travellers joy’.

Quite contrasting names for such an attractive plant that has become synonymous with gardens in this country since they were first introduced in 1569.

As they are still going strong now, it’s hard to argue against owning a few clematis of your own.

Most garden centres have a dedicated clematis or climber section so its worth investing in a colour scheme over a few years that once stablished, will have you eagerly anticipating it to come into bud with excitement every year.

I also find they are a decent indicator for the change in seasons so I don't have to rely on a random newsreader or app on my phone to tell me its now officially spring or summer.

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