up and over: more clematis on more shrubs

more-clematis-for-shrubsI AM IN THE BUNK-BED STAGE OF MY GARDEN CAREER: stacking plants on top of one another, layering the hell out of every square inch rather than making one more king-sized bed I don’t need and can’t maintain. Nowhere is this more on my mind lately than with the opportunities to use vines. At a plant sale the other day, all the seller had to say as I eyed an unfamiliar yellow-flowered Clematis was, “A customer told me he was growing those up his winterberry hollies.” I was sold. Give me some of those…and those, and those, too.


I’ve told you how to do this before with various shrubs, to get two seasons of interest from the same space: with Clematis, and also the oddball called Codonopsis.

After seeing Brushwood Nursery’s selection of vines at the Trade Secrets show last Saturday near me (just a few of the astonishing 400 or so in the online catalog), I’d have to say proprietor Dan Long has something for every shrub, and then some. Wow. Though I had already added four or five new clematis to the garden the last two weeks, I bought five more from Brushwood’s booth, good-sized plants for very fair prices, and tomorrow they will get their homes here.

And then I went back to my place and emailed the very best gardener that I know, the expert among all experts, about Brushwood. I gave him some links to various departments on their site (knowing his tastes in plants just a little, tee hee). And here came the email reply:

“Wow. That’s some list. I want to try everything. How is it that we haven’t known about this???”

My sentiments, exactly. But now we do. So many shrubs (and even trees), so many possibilities (including ‘Polish Spirit’ up and over Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Crippsii,’ below).

clematis polish spirit in chamaecyparis

  1. Matriarchy says:

    I trained an autumn-blooming clematis to grow up a large holly, and it worked beautifully. The fall display was wonderful. But now it’s spring, and the vines form last year are still up there, looking unpleasantly like a bad wig. They snap off when I try to pull them down, and I can’t get the ladder close enough to reach. Any ideas how to get the stuff down, and prevent this happening again?

  2. Seenthia says:

    If you aren’t familiar with these, search the net on Lime Twist, Tidal Wave, Royal Velvet, Celtic Skies, White Snow (tiny flowers)… all gorgeous Clematis!

    1. Margaret says:

      Thank you, Seenthia, and welcome. Off I go to have a look for those goodies. I seem to be in my Clematis phase of gardening…didn’t used to be. Lately, more seems better. :)

  3. Terryk says:

    I really want to get to Trade Secrets but am afraid I will BLOW my budget (oh, heck what budget at this time of year?! I don’t blow the budget on clothes and shoes, just plants). I was at your garden last fall and saw your Clematis tangutica and now this reminds me I should order it. Just need to think where I would put it. Thanks for this reminder Margaret!

  4. tigress says:

    i am a big veggie and fruit grower, but flowers no so much. not yet anyway. i really want to cover a portion of an old brick wall on my property with a flowering vine. i had heard about clematis before and i was *just* trying to remember the name because i want to try grow some this season. thanks for this margaret! :)

  5. Terri says:

    I’m glad to see this article… I had heard a gardening podcast a while back about training clematis into a bush so that you have different blooms at different times, but couldn’t remember what type of bush.

    The house I bought last year has clematis on three trellises, one of which is collapsing. I’m thinking next year I’ll replace that collapsing trellis with a bush.

  6. Lynn says:

    Just watched you again on Martha and you mentioned your website, so here I am. My husband and I love clematis but have a hard time growing it here in So Utah. The first ones we tried died but found the ideal spot for our next(lt lav). From our understanding clematis like cool feet(roots) but warmth on the vines. It was suggested that we put rocks at the base of the plant to keep it cool. We also planted it next to a bamboo and honeysuckle. It faces the morning sun and thrives there. At times its so full of flowers that you can barely see the leaves.It climbs along the trellis and intertwines with the honeysuckle Last fall I cut it back to a foot above the ground and it still climbs over the neighbor’s wall. For Father’s Day, I bought a Jackmanii Superba. Hope it does as well, they are so beautiful.

    1. Margaret says:

      Welcome, Lynn. Yes, harder to make them happy there than here, but you are on the right track with the “faces in the sun, feet in the shade” tactic, and the rock is a good way (plus mulch). I love the listing at Brushwood Nursery (right now most things will be sold out, but for future reference — and temptation, tee hee).

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