Add Another Clematis

As one plant dies, so it leaves behind an opportunity for another to take its place. This time, one of the Canary Island Date Palms (Phoenix Canariensis) did not survive the winter despite sheltering in the greenhouse. It succumbed to crown rot. Fresh emerging leaves from the centre of the plant turned yellow and rotted at the base, they could be simply pulled out and the gap left behind was full of decomposing, oozing plant mess.

After doing a bit of reading around, the chances of survival for this poor palm weren’t good. It could either recover – but would take many years – or it would die a slow and lingering death. After some procrastination and a few tears, I sent the terminal palm to the great compost heap in the sky. Rather, the local City Council did, I just put it in the green bin and they carted it off to give it a decent burial.

This left a large void on the patio. The old palm occupied the largest of the patio pots and now there was an opportunity to fill it with something new, fresh and exciting. So it was off to the nursery to indulge in a current obsession of mine – Clematis. I love clematis, their simple twining leaves, beautiful flowers and climbing habit completely appeals to me. Unfortunately, I don’t have it easy with clematis and they seem to struggle somewhat and take a long time to get established, if they ever do manage to survive.

Here is what can happen when I get hold of a clematis:

  1. It gets shaken to pieces in the back of the car on the way home
  2. Due to large shallow roots of nearby shrubs and trees, I may not be able to dig a hole deep enough. This means it may get planted sideways, as in a shallow grave
  3. It might spend a long time competing with the vigorous surrounding plants, trying to get into the sunlight
  4. May start off in the sunlight, but then get shaded over as the border its in expands and plants grow up around it, shading it out
  5. I may accidentally snap it in half trying to change its support. Of course, the part that snaps off has all the season’s flowers on them, in heavy bud, just weeks from opening (sorry, Miss. Bateman).

Determined to totally ignore the issues above, I chose a patio clematis called Clematis “Chantilly”, part of the “Boulevard” collection of Clematis developed by Raymond Evison. I also very much like eating Creme Chantilly, even though that has nothing to do with the plant. Clematis Chantilly is suitable for growing in pots and reaches heights of three or four feet.

Clematis ChantillyIts petals are white, but a pink central stripe appears as the flower ages and it also has a light sweet scent. Interestingly, the odd flower can be semi-double. I’m very partial to white clematis with a coloured stripe and there are many more such varieties to choose from.

This clematis will be the focal-point of the patio pots (if it survives). It’s growing up a bamboo wigwam and it won’t get too big and dominate (block) the view. The pot gets direct sun and to keep the roots cool, I’ve covered the top with light-coloured rocks – essentially builders’ rubble – that was dug out of the ground from previous border expansion projects.

We’ll have to see how this little star performs. The pot is large, it’s in sun, the roots are kept cool, the compost is fresh with lots of manure and fertiliser added and I didn’t snap it (or plant it sideways). What could go wrong? The flower in the picture is my Clematis and I’m determined to increase my aptitude with them, no matter how expensive it might get.


  1. Go for it. What’s the worst that can happen? I love clematis too, but for me it’s the small flowered varieties. Anyway – Date palms. Would soon be too big for your garden and what would you do then. And it just did not “go” with your loveliness!


    1. Hi Mrs Mac. I do have a thing for date palms, I don’t know why, I love most palms. It’s the form you see and their evocative look of sunshine-filled exotic places with paradise islands, tropical azure seas, white sands and no work. I just wanted some of that on my patio.


      1. Bless you! but I am smiling…… tropical azure seas, white sands, no work – in your dreams, but not in your garden! You know if it kept growing it would cover your entire garden with shade and then there would you be? I have just bought a black elder (see my blog) which I can trim to size. May not be your cup of tea, but an interesting addition, I think.


  2. ‘Chantilly’ is a lovely pick. Sounds like you are primed for success! This seems to be one of those plants that requires patience as much as anything else.


    1. Hi Jason, I hope this one lives up to its name. It is still continuing to flower at the moment so that is good, at least. We’ll have to see how it does next year (and subsequently).


  3. It’s hard not to love a clematis, and this one has a beautiful flower. I killed several of these plants in my early gardening career, mostly through ignorance and not giving the plants the growing conditions they needed. Now I have two growing up the fence in the Fence Border, and both will soon begin blooming — a treat to look forward to. I hope yours survives and thrives and graces your patio with lovely flowers for years to come.


    1. Hi Jean, I can’t get enough of clematis at the moment, especially the larger flowered varieties. I do struggle with them but so far, I have only lost one out of the six or so that we have so my record isn’t that bad, it’s just they’re very flower shy in my garden.


  4. Love clematis. Regularly come a cropper trying to change supports in mid summer…always snap them. Note to self: never have the self belief to think you can move a clematis. I saw these patio clematis in full bloom on sale recently at exorbitant prices… are you able to reveal the price you paid or is that classified information?


    1. Hi Claire, I’ve discovered that if you take a hit at the start and invest in a really good, sturdy support, then you don’t have to worry and don’t have the fuss of changing supports sometime later and snapping the clematis and so on. The price paid for Clematis Chantilly was £8.50 I think, I wouldn’t have paid much more for it. I bought it from a nursery where smaller clematis plants sell for just a few pounds, but I splashed out a bit, wanting a bigger plant to fill the space I had.


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