Overlooked & Under-rated


One of the mystifyingly unheralded plants in my garden is the clematis. Aside from a sweet Autumn clematis that covers an arbor in the side yard, I never quite give them the love they deserve, the fault of which lays entirely at my feet (in the shade) in spite of the fact that they continually give good face (in the sun). This purple version sits on the other side of the arbor, where I plopped it mainly as an afterthought, yet here it is, brightening its little corner, blooming at the top of the adjoining fence, and valiantly performing despite my neglect. This year, I may have to work to make some amends.

Pruning is the tricky part of caring for the clematis vine. To be honest, aside from the sweet Autumn version and the common purple Jackmanii variety (both of which perform best when cut down to a foot in the earliest spring, before new growth starts), I don’t know enough to say anything on the basic pruning of the other forms. If you don’t know, ask for instructions or research which variety you have to determine a pruning schedule, as that is the key to getting them to bloom properly. (It’s also one of the reasons I’ve avoided them; easy upkeep is the way I try to operate in the garden.) There are beautiful flowers on some of them, though, so I may have to put in the effort one of these days to figure it out. ‘Nelly Moser’ in particular looks especially lovely, and with a name like Nelly, what on earth has taken me so long?

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