Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Things are bloomin'

I love Clematis. I won't debate with you how you actually say the name of the plant, whether you put the emphasis on the "e" as the English do or the "a" as all us good midwesterners do. You make your own choice. However you say it I think these are some of my favorite plants in my garden.

I am not sure when my love affair with this wonderful vine began. It may have been an early incident I witnessed between my mom and dad when dad decided that the vine covering the side of the house needed to be "pruned" and so he cut it to the ground. I remember much fuss from Mom, and worrying that permanent damage had been done. No need to worry, clematis likes to be whacked off at the ground, or at least this one did.

Somehow or other the name stuck in my mind. Clematis (echo Clematis, Clematis, Clematis), it just sounded so exotic. I just knew that when I had a house that I was going to have one of those vines with the big beautiful purple flowers.

So, when Dan and I bought our first house one of the first things that I planted was a Clematis. I waited and waited for the big purple flowers. All summer I waited. Hmmmmmm. Then late in the summer it started putting out little tiny buds. Aha! I thought, now I would get big purple flowers. But...... what I got was big puff balls that looked like balls of cotton. Where were my purple flowers! I want my purple flowers! (if any of you are familiar with "Dexter's Lab" then say that with the same accent as Dexter). I didn't realize at the time that there are actually 3200 varieties of Clematis. I have no idea what I planted but I know that it wasn't what I thought. Disappointment in the extreme. Of course then I had a baby that winter and I was too busy to care. That vine continued to bloom vigorously year after year and I just ignored it.

In our next house we just didn't have the right sun/shade mix (or so I thought) for Clematis so I was 10 years in the Clematis wilderness.

Now, however, I have loads of Clematis. There is one that is vigorously climbing up the light post at the end of the driveway. There are three that climb up the lattice fence and there are three more scattered in the garden beds. I may even find another place or two to stick some. Who knows. They bring me joy when I sit on the garden bench in the late afternoon, the sun setting on the other side of the house throwing the back garden into shade. They make me happy.

Thanks Dad for cutting down that first Clematis and thanks Mom for being so upset about it. I knew immediately that this was a special plant that I needed to have some day.


  1. Now that you have mastered the art of clamatis . . . try growing the castor bean plants (but don't let Max chew the seed pods).

  2. This Clematis thing must be genetic....


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