Last year’s excessive rainfall highlighted my biggest problem in the garden, the dry heavy clay soil, despite all dug in well-rotted manure, mushroom compost and composts it’s constantly drained of moisture from the huge poplars and leylandii from neighbouring gardens. That’s the thing about gardening, no matter what sort of a garden we want to create there are often factors out of our control that we have to work with or against. Other problems are bindweed, couch grass and ground elder. I stopped trying to completely eradicate those years ago after realising that it’s an impossible task and would drive me crackers so I’ve found my acceptable level of control.
After seeing how the clematis that I’ve previously planted thrived and flourished last year I’m going to dig up a few that haven’t progressed much and improve the soil further, replant, then target extra water to all my clematis as the year progresses.
Clematis are wonderful and versatile plants that look great in a variety of situations. I think they look best more natural growing up through trees and shrubs, but they will also look great trained on rose arches, pergolas, fences, trellises and some will suit containers. By choosing varieties carefully it’s possible to have clematis flowers for about ten months of the year.
They like their roots in the shade, are best planted a couple of inches or so deeper giving the roots a little extra protection as well as helping the plant to survive and regrow should they get Clematis wilt or eaten by something. Its best to soak the plants roots in water for about twenty minutes or so, giving time to dig a hole about eighteen inches deep and across, if it’s clay soil break it up and loosen the inside edges of the hole before planting and back filling with peat or compost. Plants can be fed with a specialist clematis food, tomato food or rose food during spring or early summer, the soil should be moist before feeding.
Clematis that have lavender, pale pink or stripy flowers will brighten up any dull north facing situation whereas purples, reds, blues and whites will look great for a south facing aspect.
Smaller varieties such as Cezanne, Angelique andPicardywill suit containers, low fences or shrubs. The very low growing ‘Bijou’ and ‘Filigree’ would suit a container, basket or flower bed.
I’ve picked out a few beautiful varieties to plant in my garden, can’t wait until the weather improves again for me to get stuck in planting.