Clematis, the sociable climber

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The rich colours of Clematis “Romantika”.
CLEMATIS is one of the world’s favourite climbing plants, competing with roses.

Clematis grow very well in our climate and are now just coming into flower and into stock at garden centres.

These spectacular flowering climbers only have two simple growing requirements – they like their roots in shade and their stems in full sun.

Opposite to the advice for most plants, plant clematis several centimetres lower than which it is growing in the pot.

Place old broken pieces of terracotta pot or tiles over the root zone. This has a combined effect of keeping the root zone cooler and condensation under the tiles keeps the roots moist, especially in the heat of summer. Summer sun will not affect the flowers if the roots are kept moist.

They are a very forgiving plant and bounce back every season, often despite neglect for years.

Try growing clematis up and through trees. I am training C. montana rubens through the rich-purple leaves of the Japanese maple, Acer “Bloodgood”, making a wonderful contrast.

Clematis montana rubens... the first to flower.
One of the most common varieties is the small-flowered Clematis montana with white flowers, introduced into western gardens from the Himalayas by a Lady Amherst in 1831. Or consider C. montana rubenswith pink flowers, as illustrated here, introduced by the famous plant hunter Ernest Wilson from China in 1900. This is the first spring-flowering clematis to come into bloom, is a vigorous grower and will provide a wonderful display, growing at least five metres or more.

Along with the above-mentioned clematis, I have combined the later flowering Clematis “Romantika”, with its rich purple flowers with the exquisite, thorn-less, climbing rose Rosa “Zephirine Drouhin” and Clematis “General Sikorski”, with blue flowers and yellow stamens. These are trained on a wire trellis.

I highly recommend “Growing Clematis – a complete guide” by recognised Australian expert Bridget Gubbins, published by Hyland House. If you cannot find it in bookshops, go to Most importantly, it covers all aspects of growing clematis and, in particular, correct pruning methods, of which it seems there is much unwarranted confusion.

HERE’S advance notice of the Classic Yass Festival on the weekend of November 5-6, with three great country gardens open in aid of Red Cross. I will be in attendance at various times in each garden to discuss plants and answer questions.

As a precursor to this event, the gardens of Rupert Murdoch’s historic Cavan property will be open for inspection on Saturday, October 29, with talks by the renowned historian and writer Cheryl Morgan. Admission will only be by advanced bookings and tickets will not be available at the venue.

More information at

Final comment: “Gardening is the only unquestionably useful occupation” – George Bernard Shaw.

[box]This week…
THE rain we have received in recent weeks has been little and often, keeping the ground moist and resulting in ideal growing weather with warm days and cool nights, although not ideal veggie-growing weather.
Interestingly, we are behind our average annual rainfall to date. A few tasks for this week can include:
FILL in bare spots amongst the perennials with parsley. Its rapid growth and bright-green foliage acts as a great contrast to the flowers. Chives can be also included as a great filler.
PLANT calendulas or pot marigolds around the veggie area to discourage a variety of bugs.
SNAILS are on the move, use a safer snail killer, Multiguard Slug and Snail Bait – as recommended by Dr Harry Cooper.
CUT off strawberry runners as they appear. These take the energy away from fruiting flowers. Continue to feed with a high potassium plant food to encourage more flowers.
Feed roses with Neutrog Seamungus, an organic combination of seaweed and chookie poo (from free-range hens).[/box]

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Cedric Bryant
Trained horticulturist and garden designer with over 30 years experience in the industry.


    • local nurserys don’t have them here…… I have found 3 in the last 3 years and they are so expensive……. I looked last week at one and the plant was 126 dollars . wondering if I could buy at the Melbourne international flower show which I am attending next month

      • Marilyn I love clematis. The usual clematis stand was not at the flower show 2014. Can only hope they will be there this year. I have purchased a couple from Tasmania…. Clematis Cottage. They have a web site and will post however, friends on holiday picked up mine. They cost $17.(postage extra)

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