How to get the best out of your clematis


SOUTHSEA GREEN: Trees going begging... come and get 'em

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A lot of gardeners get quite upset if their clematis dies of wilt. But did you know the majority of these plants don’t suffer from this problem – it’s only the Jackman group and the Jackman hybrids that are badly affected. The other types are not susceptible.

Everyone should have a place for clematis in their garden. It can even be grown with other plants in a deep tub.

They enjoy being able to climb up into the sunshine and they must all enjoy their roots being in the shade so that the roots can always find water and nutrients.

To be honest, the most likely reason to lose a clematis is lack of a thorough drink. They adore water all spring and summer, but like well-drained soil in winter.

One of my favourite deciduous clematis is Ernest Markham. This has dusky red flowers over 5in across and flowers in late May.

It is one of the most reliable of clematis for anyone who finds these gems difficult to grow.

So you can see that there are other varieties apart from Jackmanii with large flowers, but you need to shop around to find them.

Another one which is easy to grow, with purple flowers and a yellow centre about 4in across, is clematis viticella Etoile Violette.

This is superb growing up a pergola pole or on a square trellis rather than up a wall.

The reason for this is the leaf shapes, which are very narrow and catch the sunlight and breeze in a spectacular way.

Clematis montana is very common and in flower right now. It smothers everything in about three years, but there are some superb cultivars.

Rubens has rosy red blooms, while Elizabeth has delicate pink, slightly fragrant blooms about 3in across.

If you love the hybrid called Nelly Moser, then I share your enthusiasm. But if she always wilts, then grow Bees Jubilee.

They’re very similar. In fact you won’t tell them apart from a distance – it’s only when you compare one flower to another that you realise they’re not the same.

Bees Jubilee is a gorgeous mauve pink with a carmine central bar.

Beauty of Worcester has enormous Cambridge blue flowers, while Elsa Spathe is deep violet and will flower on and off from June to September.

If you love white blooms, you won’t beat Madame Le Coutre with her sepals 6in across.

The largest of them all, however, is W E Gladstone. The blooms on this beauty are 8-9in across, with a really unusual pale lavender colour. This will flourish if planted in a good warm spot.

When planting all clematis, remember they like a chalky soil and a deep root run so they can send deep roots to obtain the water they need. They love liquid feed too.