This blog reviews the latest products, plants and innovations in gardening. It also provides a link for my many gardening friends who are members of the GardenMessenger and Seedmessenger Yahoo groups and their sub-groups that I moderate.

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Location: Australia

I am a semi-retired UK botanical garden curator and former international horticultural consultant, who has worked extensively in Europe, the Middle East, North America and Australia. I spend part of the year in Australia and part in Europe, mainly due to family and work commitments. I earn my living from writing and editing Internet copy, articles and books. I have written over fifty books on gardening and have been translated into twenty-four different languages. I am a former UK Garden Writer of the Year and a previous Quill & Trowel Award Winner from the Garden Writer’s Association of America. I am interested in developing gardening communities on the Internet and I manage the popular GardenMessenger Yahoo group, along with its various sub-groups like PondMessenger and SeedMessenger. I also edit International Water Gardener and its associated regional web-sites.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Clematis Old and New, Chelsea Show Garden, Latest Plants


Today I want to focus upon Clematis and to do two things at the same time within this article. One is to review the cultivation and propagation of these wonderful climbing plants, especially for newcomers, and to include a little about the well known and long grown cultivars. The other is to provide everyone, especially the enthusiast, with a glimpse of what is being promoted at the Chelsea Flower Show shortly, especially by the Evison / Poulsen collaboration and their Festoon Collection. This article is illustrated with these new cultivars.

‘Avante Garde’

Both species and cultivars of Clematis enjoy a free-draining limy soil. They are naturally plants of scrubland where they scramble over shrubs and climb into trees, their growth in the sun and roots in the shade. So when planting make provision for a low growing shrub to be established at the base of the clematis to provide it with some natural shade for the roots. Where this is not possible, then provide a cool root run by placing a paving slab over the rooting area. Clematis are heavy feeders and should be provided with a generous mulch of well rotted manure or compost. Propagation is best achieved by summer layering, although inter-nodal cuttings are possible. Some species can be raised from seed sown during early spring in soil-based seed compost in a shaded cold frame. As they dislike transplanting, establish seedlings in modules or small pots as soon as possible and pot grow them until ready to plant out.


There are basically three groups of clematis:- early flowering, late flowering, and the species and their primary hybrids, although this latter is a rather vague separation. All are cultivated in the same manner, it is just when it comes to pruning that techniques differ. Early flowering clematis are pruned immediately flowering has finished. The blossoms of next spring and early summer are produced on the growth made during the current year. This is carefully preserved through the winter as the flower buds of the next season are already initiated. Often the reason for a clematis not flowering is heavy autumn and winter pruning that effectively cuts the potential blossoming wood away. Amongst the early flowering hybrids the following are some of the most important: ‘Duchess of Edinburgh’ double white, ‘Proteus’, deep mauve-pink, ‘Nelly Moser’, mauve-pink with a carmine bar, ‘Blue Gem’ and the bluish-lilac ‘Countess of Lovelace’.

Late flowering clematis are pruned in early spring, old, over-wintered growth being cut to within 30cm (12ins) of ground level. The blossoms of late summer and autumn are produced on growth made earlier in the year. If pruning is not severe enough, flowering wood only appears on the upper part of the plant. During the summer, as growth is being produced, it should be directed to cover the area desired, even though it is self-clinging. With some of the more vigorous cultivars it may be necessary to thin and rationalise the growth in order to ensure an even cover. Amongst the late flowering hybrids the following are some of the most important: ‘Jackmanii’, deep rich, violet-purple, ‘Ernest Markham’ glowing red, ‘Ville de Lyon’ bright carmine, ‘Hagley Hybrid’ shell-pink and ‘Huldine’ with icy-white blossoms. ‘Duchess of Albany’ is bright pink shading to lilac, ‘Gravetye Beauty’, cherry red and ‘Gipsy Queen’ velvety violet-purple.

Clematis species are not a specific botanical category, for some are early flowered and others late blooming. They are separated here as they are generally used for less formal purposes in the garden and are mostly vigorous and small flowered. That is not to in anyway downgrade them from the hybrid kinds, for many of them, apart from producing masses of very attractive blossoms produce beautiful fluffy seed heads too.There are innumerable species, but the pink-flowered Clematis montana, blue spring flowering C.alpina and evergreen creamy-white blossomed C.armandii are favourites. The yellow-flowered C.tanqutica, bright red C.texensis and lovely fluffy seeded C.vitalba are special amongst the later flowering species. There are two very good garden worthy Australian species as well. Clematis aristata, with its lovely little starry white flowers and C.microphylla, a very similar species, but with smaller leaves and less vigour.

The following notes are from Evison/Poulsen. For more information click here.

The Festoon Collection
These new Evison/Poulsen clematis are extremely free flowering and live up to their name of 'festooning' their host or support. Their flowering habit provides flowers on the current season’s stems from mid-summer onwards, giving cover and colour to their supports or hosts.

They come in a range of flower colour, shapes and sizes, allowing the gardener to use them with a range of wall trained or free standing shrubs and conifers. A very vertical range of clematis, which provides masses of flowers over a long period. As most of them have been bred from resistant wild clematis species, they do not succumb to clematis wilt as easily, if at all, and they are extremely winter hardy for cold climates in Europe and North America. They also flower well in the warmer climate both in Europe and America so they are most valuable garden plants with many uses.

Resistant to clematis wilt as far as we have seen.
Winter hardy zones 4-9 (possibly 3-9).
Ideal for hot sunny climates and cold climates. They will flower well in hot sunny locations as they have been bred from Clematis viticella from Italy.
Marvellous for growing through small trees, shrubs, through climbing species, botanical or shrub roses. Ideal for growing over ground cover plants, such as heather, cotoneaster, flat spreading junipers, potentillas etc.
Simple pruning - hard prune down to about 15-30cm (6-12in) above the ground each year (end of winter/early spring) before new growth starts.

Chelsea Show Gardens Preview
During each of the days running up to the Chelsea Flower Show I am previewing a show garden. Although these are often regarded as garden theatre and not as sustainable under normal gardening conditions, they are often full of interesting and innovative ideas which can be taken, at least in part, and used in our gardens at home.

The Leeds City Council Garden

The concept and creation of the garden is testament to both the success of a city that leads nationally in commerce and regeneration and the partnerships between the City Council and local entrepreneurs. The objective of the design is to highlight the industrial heritage, and the current prosperity of Leeds. As well as using old and new materials the form of the garden has been inspired by the shapes of garment templates from Leeds’ historic clothing industry. The split level water feature, in which the modern glass sculpture sits, represents the importance of the River Aire, and the Leeds Canals in the development of Leeds while providing a reflection of the garden as it changes through the seasons. The sculpture also compliments the steel wall reflecting the modern architectural style apparent on the Leeds skyline today.


Sweet Pea ‘Milly’
Matthewman Sweet Peas of Pontefract West Yorkshire in the north of England, will launching sweet pea ‘Milly’, at the Chelsea Flower Show. This is a special sweet pea that has been named in memory of a 13 year old girl who was abducted and murdered on her way home from school.

Another New French Iris
Iris ‘Tabac Blond’ is a new cultivar from Cayeux Iris, Poilly-Lez-Gien in France. It has burnt orange and yellow sepals with central maroon petals. For more details click here.

Crossandra ‘Fortuna’
Florists and garden centres, especially in Europe, are promoting what is said to be the best selection of Crossandra infundibuliformis yet produced. It is compact with generous foliage cover and bold spikes of orange flowers. A first class pot plant.


2006 International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society Symposium
19th-23rd July
Fort Lauderdale and Orlando,
United States.
International Waterlily and Water Gardening Society
6828 26th Street West,
FL 34207
Details click here.

Happy Gardening



Today’s Sponsor

Clematis and Chelsea Garden: Royal Horticultural Society
Iris: Cayeux Iris
Crossandra: Potplantenkwekerij Richplant
If you have enjoyed this publication, you may also like to visit the monthy SeedMessenger gardeners’ seed saving and seed exchange blog click here.
and the weekly water gardening blog PondMessenger click here.

To join the GardenMessenger gardening community
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To visit the SeedMessenger seed exchange web-site
click here

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