Grace your special garden with a climbing, flowering vine (hugging a trellis) and you will be blessed with blooms AND blooms AND more blooms! Whether you choose a sweet pea vine or a clematis cultivar, vining plants require a fairly small footprint. With vertical gardening on the rise, clematis and climbers need consideration to determine if they will work in your garden environment. My favorite climber is Clematis ‘Etoile Violette’ shown here in living color!
Despite our recent droughty conditions in Southern Wisconsin during May and June, this clematis planted in 2009 survived and thrived with little care. Some watering was required, but not every day. Although it needs full sun conditions (six hours or more daily), the root zone area needs protection and some shade. I used shredded hardwood mulch to cover the entire root zone, and also planted two specimens directly south of the plant to create a “shade pocket” to keep roots happy and cool throughout summer months. (One is a peony and the other is a broadleaf evergreen, ‘Emerald Gaiety.’ This combination provided sufficient shade to keep ‘Etoile Violette’ cool and comfortable in spring/summer.)
Take care when choosing a place to site any clematis, since this vine can live fifty years or more; provide loose, organic soil and fertilize once per year. Wind desiccation can be detrimental to thin clematis vines, so wrapping entire vine loosely in burlap can help during winter months. (Some years, I pruned all the way to the ground— that is another option.) If older vines are left intact on the trellis, the new growth vines seem to climb over them and latch on. As foliage fills in, the older, brown vines are no longer visible. Although I reside in a USDA Zone 5 area, apparently this clematis is hardy to Zone 3 and 4 as well.
BONUS: This spring, a mating pair of house wren chose our clematis to build their nest. We could hear chicks chirping often; dense foliage provided protection for the young. When this vine sheds its leaves in fall, we should be able to see a tiny nest clinging to vines; nest isn’t visible just yet— too many blooms obstructing view!
Schmid, Certified Master Gardener