Sunday, June 7, 2015


 I'm new to clematis. I've always loved the ones that I've seen, but I've always assumed they wouldn't grow well in this hot summer, dry climate. I was partially correct. This is not an ideal climate for clematis (what else is new?).

Clematis 2012
When I moved into The Modern House, there was a little twiglet at the base of a huge honeysuckle vine that barely noticed. It grew about 2 feet tall, then died back suddenly, but then in June, flowers opened, and I was smitten.

Clematis 2012

I assume that this is Clematis jackmanii, which is common enough, and nothing in this yard was planted that is remotely unusual.

Clematis do grow here, but they are not particularly easy.

Three years later, and with some additional care, this clematis is much larger, about three times the size as it was, but still not huge, probably due to competition with the honeysuckle. I'm debating taking out the honeysuckle and replacing it with rose 'Madame Alfred Carriere' since the honeysuckle is so scraggly and messy looking, but I do love the fragrance, and it it not invasive here.

Last year, I planted clematis 'Betty Corning.' It is one of the few fragrant clematis, and is said to do well in Texas, and be tough as an old boot. Its nickname is "Betty the Beast" because of its vigor, and is resistant to clematis wilt.

The photos were not as impressive as the large flowered clematis, but it sounded like a good "starter" clematis.

 Growing it, I can see why it is not that impressive in the photos, but I can also see why people love it. The bell-like flowers are incredibly charming, and engaging.

Just opening, the flowers are not as colorful.

There is a distinct fragrance when sniffed, although it doesn't waft. I hope that as this plant will show just how much of a beast she can be in the years to come. It still gets branches broken in the spring winds, but seems to grow on despite this. Clematis of this group are just like lilies: they grow best with shaded roots and sunny tops, die down in the winter, and then make incredible growth in the spring to reach their heights by bloom time. In the case of Betty, this can mean growing 12 feet or more in 3 months! It also means that such growth will require clean-up in the winter. But if you love seeing such growth like I do, it can be just the ticket. Hmm, maybe to plant more?

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