There is only one clematis native to this country – C. vitalba, commonly known as “old man’s beard”. Clematis originate from Northern India, Tibet, Japan, New Zealand and Australia, North America and Mediterranean countries. There are 326 species and around 12,000 hybrids.
Carole, who was extremely knowledgeable on her subject, suggested that we only need to have 5 clematis in our garden to have one flowering for every month of the year. The year could begin with C. cirrhosa varieties which flower from January to March. For flowering in March and April plant C. armandii varieties. Then comes C. alpinas and C. macropetalas in late April and May. June is when C. montana comes into its own. For July and August choose C. orientalist varieties and follow this with C. viticella and lastly C. Lady Betty Balfour or Madam Baron-Veilllard. The last two need to be planted on a south or south west facing wall as they need as much warmth as possible late in the season.
John, Carole’s husband, then gave us a practical demonstration on how to plant clematis; making sure that the hole is wide and deep and back filled with compost and bone meal. The clematis should be planted very deeply and watered well before and after planting. The roots should be kept cool, but not with stones or bricks as this provides a hiding place for young snails; grit is the preferred option as it keeps the moisture in and deters slugs and snails. Feeding with a balanced fertiliser is essential and the recommended amount is one gallon of feed per week in the first year, once a fortnight in the second year, once a month in the third year and there-after a couple of times a year. We then learnt how to grow clematis from seed, but they may take up to 3 years to germinate so another option is to take cuttings or layer the plant and we were instructed on how to do this and were provided with some useful handouts. With regards to pruning a simple rule seems to be, if the clematis flowers before June don’t prune and if it flowers from late June onwards then prune hard in the spring to two leaf buds as the flowers will be produced on the new growth.
Many thanks to Carole and John for providing us with such useful and comprehensive information and advice. Carole suggested searching “Clematis on the Web” this is a database of clematis containing about 3,700 clematis varieties and well worth a look.
Our next meeting on July 18th will be our AGM. Please join us for a short business meeting followed by a talk on the Forest Centre, Marston Moretaine then a light buffet and a chance to socialise.
Please note that we do not meet in August but look forward to seeing you all in September when the talk will be on Walled Kitchen Gardens and their Structures.
New members and visitors are always welcome. For more information contact Linda Truscott on 01234 270747