WHEN I TALKED CLEMATIS PRUNING recently with my friend Dan Long, we didn’t spend much time on some of my favorite Clematis of all: the non-vining types that act more like perennials or even like lightweight shrubs. I wanted to be sure to spread the good word for “non-vining” Clematis, too (that’s ‘Floris V,’ a form of Clematis integrifolia, up top), so that you might consider making space for them among your other perennials, where they will happily scramble and lend extra interest to a planting. [read more…]
ONE OF MY FAVORITE lines ever in a garden book: vintage Christopher Lloyd, the late daring plantsman of Great Dixter in England, in his Clematis manual. “An unpruned Clematis looks like a disemboweled mattress—a painful sight,” he wrote. Indeed. Yet so many of us go into denial and paralysis mode when approaching our beloved vines during spring cleanup. “Now what was I supposed to do with this one?” we say, scratching our heads while not-so-accidentally turning away to some other task, and leaving the botanical sprung mattress innards just hanging there. Boing! I asked Dan Long of Brushwood Nursery, a.k.a. gardenvines.com, to help me (us!) get past our “pruning fears and misconceptions,” as he calls them. The story, plus pruning diagrams and a podcast full of more vine-growing tips. [read more…]
ONE OF MY 2012 TROPICAL PLANT PURCHASES is starting to scare me. The so-called Rex begonia vine—no begonia at all, really, but a gorgeous grape relative from parts of Southeast Asia and Australia—is not going to fit through the door this fall if this lusty behavior keeps up. Meet beautiful Cissus discolor, which I intended to overwinter indoors as a houseplant…oh, dear, what was I thinking when I trained it upward instead of in an easier-to-carry-in hanging basket?
IN SCALE, SHAPE, AND COLOR IS SUITS THEM—and it suits me, too, since I’m likewise mad for red, the way ruby-throated hummingbirds are. I’m happy to accommodate the Northeast’s only breeding hummingbird species in any way I can, enjoying their high-energy antics from spring through fall, and since they find the so-called cardinal climber positively irresistible, I always make room for the flashy little morning glory relative in the garden. [read more…]