I think, this year, that I will try and grow clematis. This has been a garden dream I adopted from my mom. She has always wanted beautiful clematis trailing up the side of the house, and has never been able to have it. She has green thumbs somewhere, but no time or desire to really use them. So I grew up with the clematis dream implanted in my head.
BOTH of my grandma’s had/have beautiful and lush, deep purple (probably ‘jackamanii’) clematises in their yards. And asking them how to get them to grow like that was always answered with “It just grows like a weed”.Which never really helped us figure out why we couldn’t grow them. Investigations never really went farther than asking grandma though… Probably why we never figured it out… There are old pictures of both of their walls filled with clematis tucked away in photo albums, but I don’t have them with me right now.
Every attempt at growing a lush clematis of my own has resulted in a few sad flowers and death of the plant after a year or two. That being said, I have done nothing to help the poor little plants along other than watering them, either too much, too little, who knows. It didn’t work. And so I gave up on the clematis dream for a while to just grow vegetables. More on that topic later, but needless to say, with no flowers, we had no bees or butterflies. (Last year I had more flowers in my yard and an amazing selection of helper bugs to pollinate my vegetables that needed help.) So THIS year, I am (hopefully) going to grow an amazing clematis just like my grandma(s).
Since this post is lacking in photos (because its February and I can’t find old pictures of envious walls filled with the pretty purple flowers), I thought I would share some clematis facts I have just learned from the Google machine.
- the name comes from Ancient Greek meaning “a climbing plant”
- Rarely are these plants found in the tropics. They prefer the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
- will grow in any good garden soil
- roots require a moist cool environment while the leaves can take full sun.
The European species did not enter into the herbalists’pharmacopeia. In the American Old West, the Western white clematis, Clematis ligusticifolia, was called pepper vine by early travelers and pioneers, who took a tip from Spanish colonials and used seeds and the acrid leaves of yerba de chivato as a peppersubstitute. The entire genus contains essential oils and compounds which are extremely irritating to the skin and mucous membranes. Unlike black pepper or Capsicum, however, the compounds in clematis cause internal bleeding of the digestive tract if ingested in large amounts. C. ligusticifolia is essentially toxic.
Do you have any Clematis tips for me? I will be on the hunt for jackmanii just like my grandmas grew. It will be going on the south facing wall of my garage… which means I need to get that bed built before spring time… And I will need something to help shade the roots of the plant.
The bed I will be building will be at least slightly raised up, as water tends to pool in this area when we get a lot of rain (or melting snow). I do think we got that drainage issue sorted out, but I want to be prepared.