If you want to make an incredible splash in a frustratingly plain patch or planter, Trailing Clematis can be your perennial joy.
A couple of years back, I cleared and raised a garden for our songbirds, and of all the perennials I planted, purple Clematis proved the star—coming back stronger each summer, and eagerly climbing the poles I provided.
I thought I was doing well, until I encountered the mailbox shown here! I was stunned by how creatively the gardener had trellised and trained his vines, transforming an otherwise dull spot into the star of this country lane.
After photographing both sides of the planting, I went back to my gardening notebook, and collected a few tips to help me make next year’s bird garden truly explode. I found I was making some rookie blunders like:
- Improper pruning is one of the commonest blunders gardeners make. Summer-blooming Clematis should not be pruned in fall, but at winter’s end. March-April bloomers need pruning after they quit, at the start of summer.
- Forget poles and try using a stretched-wire trellis to train your clematis. You’ll avoid the tangled mess that confronted me last year, and your clematis will eagerly transform the trellis into screen of rich colors.
- Fertilize before blooming season and watch your vines fill your trellis with buds! Clematis needs extra food from March to May, to help the vines grow. Ask your garden store for a good, universal flower fertilizer. Digging in a granulated cow manure will also help your soil structure. No fertilizing is necessary after blossoms appear.
- Keep Clematis roots out of direct sunlight, because they prefer cool soil. If possible, plan your trellising so your vines can seek out sunlight.
- And always remember Clematis detest dry soil, so water generously during droughts, and make sure the earth in your container stays moist.
And now—might I have some advice from you?
I know my fabulous Followers include some wonderfully creative gardeners. So please, let me know if the tips I collected sound correct to you—or if I’m missing out on some good stuff that you know!
I want my bird garden to rival this magnificent mailbox next year—so please, lend a hand and help my Clematis explode with color next year!