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Sweet Autumn

September 10th, 2012

I’ve proclaimed my love of the ‘Sweet Autumn’ clematis before. It’s a winning vine in my garden. Much tougher and more resilient than many other clematises. There are a few of them growing throughout the gardens, trained on fences, up trees and hopefully, one up one of the front porch posts.

A few years ago, I planted one on my front hillside. The plan was to to eventually put in a nice archway in a break in the boxwood hedge, but that plan never materialized. As a result, the vine now happily scrambles up a small dogwood tree nearby.

I’m especially loving these vines this year because they’ve come through the drought with flying colors. One of my largest vines grows in the gravel driveway (yes it was planted there by previous owners) and has never been watered. Amazingly, it’s lush and covered with flowers this fall.

My front hillside suffered tremendously with the drought of this past summer (I blogged about Cutting my Losses over on the Your Day Blog last month). The clematis I planted up there a few years ago is providing some much needed beauty in an otherwise stark landscape.

In the future I may use this clematis as a ground cover as well. It’s so robust and lush it would be perfect for hard to cover areas. It also provides a much needed source of food for the honeybees at this time of year when not a lot of other things are blooming. My vines are always swarming with happily foraging bees.

What’s your favorite tough plant?

An Autumn Beauty

September 30th, 2011

I was lucky enough to inherit this beautiful ‘Sweet Autumn’ Clematis (Clematis terniflora) when we moved in here at Chiot’s Run. It’s planted in the worst spot, almost in the gravel driveway, but it doesn’t seem to mind. It’s always grown well and bloomed nicely despite neglect and the tough conditions. Last year, I planted a comfrey at it’s base, to bring up nutrients from deep within the soil. The comfrey leaves also provide a nice mulch in the winter, protecting the soil and composting down in spring.

As you can see, the clematis is really appreciating this partnership. This year it looked better than ever, blooming profusely and providing food for all kinds of pollinators during a season when food is scarce.

This is a fantastic clematis if you’re looking for an easy care tall flowering vine. It blooms on current season growth and should be cut back to about 8-12″ in spring. It’s a vigorous plant, topping out at about 20′, so it can cover a trellis in no time flat. I now prune it several times during the summer to keep it to size. Before I pruned mine as often, it would grow to the top of a dogwood tree nearby.

Some people say this plant invasive, as it puts off seeds. I have only found a few seedlings in my gardens in the nine years I’ve lived here. I find that the deer eat all the seeds in the winter. I’ve never seen one growing in the wild around here, so I think the seeds only survive a mild winter with the right conditions. Since I deal with a few very invasive plants, this one doesn’t strike me as too much of a problem. Be aware though that it might be invasive in warmer climates than my zone 5 garden.

I’m truly amazed by the tenaciousness of this vine. For all the mistreatment it received early in it’s life, it is one of the most beautiful and easy going plants in my garden. Each fall I relish it’s season, happy that it survived the previous owners to grace our fence with such beauty each fall.

What’s your favorite fall blooming plant?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.