Versatile clematis

The queen of climbers deserves a place in every garden – and a clematis gives extra value when grown in imaginative ways.

A lthough clematis are traditionallyClematis also look stunning planted trained up walls or fences, it isin tubs and allowed to trail over the well worth considering growingsides, trained up trellis, or grown up a them horizontally – over a small wall orframe such as a metal obelisk.

A picket fence, perhaps. Or, for a won-Pots for clematis should be at least derful carpet of velvety purple blooms45cm (l’/ift) deep; a mulch of decora- from early summer right through to au-tive pebbles keeps the roots cool. Obe- tumn, use one of the ‘Jackmanii’ typeslisks or a simple wigwam framework of as ground cover.canes can also be used for a freestand- Team clematis with bulbs for a dising border display.

Play of spring colour before it puts onWhatever creative use you put them growth. If the space available is restrict-to, remember the basic growing needs ed, try the less vigorous mauve-pinkof clematis – heads in the sun; roots in ‘Comtesse de Bouchaudcool, moist shade.

Clematis partners

In the wild, a clematis twists its leafstalks around the stems and twigs of nearby trees and shrubs to clamber up to the light.

You can use this habit to advan-tage by training vigorous types, such as Clematis montana, to scramble up a tree – an old apple tree is ideal – while smaller species, such as Clematis macro-petala, can weave through shrubs. Grown in this way, clematis looks natural and is less prone to diseases such as mildew.

Choose a supporting plant that also complements the flowering times of the clematis, either by flowering at the same time – roses and late-flowering hybrid clema-tis, for example – or by flowering in a completely different season -Mexican orange and Clematis orientalis, for example.

So that it does not have to compete for its water and food supply, plant the young clematis well away from the centre of the support tree or shrub and then train it in the desired direction over the ground or on a cane.

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