Over the last few weeks there’s been a whirlwind of activity and some of it has been about the garden. On the first sinful trip to the garden centre a few weeks ago (when I talked about my yearning for a patio filled with terracotta pots, I – predictably – wasn’t allowed the pots so I consoled myself with yet more Clematis. Five this time. They weren’t at full price (prices go up when they’re in flower) but weren’t as cheap as they could have been when they’re sold as dead sticks in winter. Some of the five I bought are popular favourites that I have had my eye on for some time.
In this suspect line-up we have (from left to right):
- Clematis “Ernest Markham”
- Clematis “Nelly Moser”
- Clematis “Daniel Deronda”
- Clematis “Bees Jubilee”
- Clematis “Jackmanii”
These Clematis are to plug the various holes in Magnolia Hill. Last year, when Magnolia Hill was planted up, I sunk empty Clematis pots into the ground close-by most shrubs to help with watering (simply fill the pot with water and it will drain directly to the roots). Now – after a very wet winter – the ground is saturated and the shrubs should be tapping into to all that wetness under the border so it’s time to fill in some of those holes. It has actually worked out very well because with this scheme, I can easily water young shrubs and when established, I can get a full-sized potted clematis into the ground, right beside that shrub without ripping its roots to shreds digging the planting hole. The hope is that the clematis will scramble into the shrub it is planted against and the shrub keeps the roots cool and shaded and supports the Clematis. We’ll have to see what reality brings.
When it comes to Clematis, it usually it brings dead sticks.
Last summer, my cherished Clematis “Chantilly”, set as one of the centre-pieces of the patio, was on the verge of creating the most spectacular tower of flower yet but right at the moment when the anticipation of all those flower buds opening was the greatest, it was hit with Clematis Wilt and the entire show was destroyed. Grumbling in misery, as I cut the whole plant down to the ground, I looked across to the newly finished, “Judas Rise”, border and decided to set Clematis “Chantilly” free and plant it there to scramble up the Judas tree. I buried the root ball so deep there was no sign of anything until now (eight months later), when several new clematis shoots broke the surface. It’s alive! Just! I’ll try not to get my hopes up too much but I do hope it returns to glory this year.
I went one step further too and exhumed the clematis that were growing in the six large trugs set at the front of the house. These trugs had become infested with Vine Weevil and combined with baking sun and hot roots, made for an embarrassing show last year. I picked as much soil off the Clematis root ball as I dared (taking many horrible vine weevil grubs with it) and planted each one close to a bare root fruit tree on Fruit Avenue. Six Clematis, six fruit trees, twelve dead sticks. It’s not much to look at but in as little as five years, it might just be jaw-dropping.
There would normally be a photo at this point, but you can’t get much out of bare soil, an underground clematis and a dormant fruit tree.