COMPLEAT HOME GARDENER: Add a little color to your garden with a clematis vine

By Marianne Binetti

The second week of May is when spring starts climbing the walls with color – and I give all the credit to colorful clematis. Knighted with the moniker the “Queen of Vines,” clematis comes in many forms, colors and growth habits and the nicest thing about this blooming vine is how much it loves holding court here in western Washington.

Clematis vines are potted up and dressed to impress in nurseries this week and you can choose from the fragrant, early-blooming evergreen clematis or the vigorous purple favorite called Clematis jackmani but the best-behaved with the biggest blooms will be found on the new Boulevard Clematis Collection. Bred for a more compact growth and large flowers with a repeat blooming habit, these are the perfect clematis for pots on the patio, balcony or terrace.

These special compact clematis vines come from the island of Guernsey off the coast of France, a small island famous for its dairy farms, sea breezes and beautiful clematis. Developed by Raymond Evison, the “Clematis King of Guernsey,” the Boulevard Clematis were bred to make a big impact in a small space. They grow 3 to 4 feet tall and can be easily trained to grow up a formal plant support or to hang casually in the arms of a nearby shrub or rose plant. All the Boulevard Clematis are repeat flowering, which means they will start blooming in May and repeat until September or a hard frost. Buying a clematis for your patio pots can be an investment but the good news is these vines are winter hardy and will return year after year, happy in the same pot if you remember to fertilize each spring and water in the summer. Use a container at least 18 inches wide and at least 12 inches deep and you won’t need to repot these blooming beauties for five to seven years.

A Few to Find Now: Boulevard Container Clematis

• Cézanne Clematis: An artistic whirl of lavender petals with a bright green eye in the center makes this a cheerful bloomer that handles the rain well. The polite growth and cool lavender color of Cezanne clematis makes it a great partner for tall roses. I have one climbing up the backside of my Queen Elizabeth rose plant. Queen Liz is embracing her wild side and doesn’t seem to mind supporting Cézanne. All for the sake of artistic beauty, of course.

• Picardy Clematis: The intense color of this deep purple clematis is almost red, veering off to violet. The flowers are large and aim upright, making this a majestic vine for a container garden especially if surrounded by white lobelia or deep pink petunias. Picardy has lots of blooms that can be sometimes partially hidden by the abundance of new buds. Calling Picardy a heavy bloomer is an understatement; this is a clematis that bursts with blooms.

Copyright for this column owned by Marianne Binetti.

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