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:
- It gets shaken to pieces in the back of the car on the way home
- 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
- It might spend a long time competing with the vigorous surrounding plants, trying to get into the sunlight
- 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
- 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.
Its 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.