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Last Month in My Garden: August 2011

‘Jottings from Bolam’ August 2011

The BBC, filming for Gardeners World

BBC Gardeners World came to film in the garden early August – great fun, but exhausting! They were interested in my collection of viticella clematis, which help to keep colour and interest going in the late summer garden.

I discovered viticella clematis about 18yrs ago, after giving up on the large flowered, early summer clematis. In spite of careful planting, the latter obviously did not like my free draining sandy soil and succumbed to wilt to which they are prone, or just ‘packed up’. After losing 8 of 10 plants in 6yrs I got the message!

Similarly with roses, only the most disease resistant perform well here and I do hate a sickly looking plant! It really pays to choose plants that like your soil.

C. ‘Lasurstern’ lasted 8yrs, but C ‘Nellie Moser’, after two bouts of wilt in her youth, is still going strong more than 20yrs later. This group of clematis (Group 2) flower on the previous years growth and need only a periodic tidy up.

I like the fact that all the top growth of viticellas (Group 3) is cut down to the ground in winter, hence no unsightly tangle. They are not prone to wilt, are healthy and tough, and flower prolifically in the second half of summer. Careful planting, feeding and regular watering rewarded when established, by prodigious growth, up to 16ft, with a range of flowering time from June until November. C. vit. ’Margot Koster’ flowered here in early June, and C. vit. ’Blue Belle’ and C vit. ‘Black Prince’ still had flowers when the snows came last November!

Clematis viticella ‘Perle d'Azur’

I grow them up netting on the walls, large obelisks and tough shrubs. The large blue flowers of C. vit. ‘Perle d’Azur’ spilling out of a large golden elder looks stunning this month. Viticella clematis provide much needed colour and height in the late summer garden – so why not give them a try?

Heather Russell

Text and photograph by Heather Russell of the HPS North East Group.


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