- Water, water, water! Best done in the evening or very early morning.
- Brilliant time to plant herbaceous as a lot of varieties are starting to flower, you can pick your colours.
- The same goes for roses, the new varieties are sure to please the most discerning gardener.
- Keep an eye on gooseberries for mildew.
There is only one problem with doing an article on Clematis, my space is limited so I won’t be able to cover the subject completely. Clematis make up a vast group of plants, there are ones for growing up through trees 40-50 feet, some will even grow in hanging baskets and there are some herbaceous varieties. There are many families all requiring different growing techniques and all pruned differently, so you need to take a little time and watch your plant growing for the first year or two. If you have a grasp of the essentials, your plants will tell you when they need pruning. In general the main families can be broken up into three different groups.
Group 1 – varieties that flower in late winter, early spring, Montana varieties are a good example. They grow quite vigorously and flower on wood produced the previous year so it makes sense to prune them immediately after flowering and leave them alone for the rest of the year to produce their flower buds for the next season. The Clematis alpinum are treated much the same but as they are not as vigorous and they don’t require much pruning.
Group 2 – these are the varieties that flower in early summer. This is probably the trickiest group, they flower on the previous year’s growth but they need a light pruning in early spring to remove any dieback or very weak stems. The problem being that the stems can all look quite dead in early spring so you cut the stems at the extremities and if it’s totally brown and there’s no sap, it should be removed. If in doubt leave it alone and when they burst into leaf in late spring you can revisit the pruning.
Group 3 – probably the most popular group, these are often referred to as the Jackmanii group, they flower in late summer/ autumn and flower on current year’s growth. On established plants some of the older wood is removed after flowering in the autumn but they are pruned back quite hard to a pair of strong buds in early spring, just up from the ground level. They will burst into bud in spring, grow all summer and flower thereafter. There are some exceptions to every group but unless you are a connoisseur the fore mentioned is quite adequate. The biggest problem I find with clematis especially the large flowered hybrids is that they never live long enough to need pruning because they are planted incorrectly. The hybrids have specific requirements, they like their heads in the sun and their feet in the shade. They require good moisture retentive (not soggy) soil with good quality homemade compost, leaf mould or rotted farmyard manure mixed through the soil. They like to be planted deep so dig the hole at least a foot deep and flood the planting area after planting. An occasional liquid feed during the summer with tomato food will give brilliant results. I think I need to continue this next week. Enjoy the sun!