Classic clematis’ with summer flowering species and varieties

‘Design classic’ is an everyday term which can come to mind when we’re thinking of anything from a Jaguar E-Type to a little black dress. In gardening there are some plants that have the same quality that makes them desirable whatever the decade or the setting. Clematis is definitely on the A list with their fabulous choice of flowers and colours.

Simply being a climber gets clematis off to a great start. The versatility and space-saving qualities of climbers makes them ideal for such a wide range of situations. In smaller gardens, using vertical space for a cascade of colour adds maximum interest for a small footprint. Growing climbers up walls and fences is a great way of softening hard boundaries and creating a sense of space – an apparently permeable boundary is far less ‘enclosing’ than a solid wall or fence. You can also use them to great effect for screening off garden eyesores or on trellises to divide areas. It can even work to grow them through the branches of a deciduous tree.

Let’s take a look at some of them that are at their best at this stage of the season. All of these fall into the category of early-mid-summer flowering clematis and most have big, confident flowers: ‘Belle of Woking’ (bluish white flowers), ‘Beauty of Worcester’ (deep blue flowers), ‘Countess of Lovelace’ (bluish lilac flowers) and of course the stunning ‘Nelly Moser’ with its big (12-16cm across) pink-mauve flowers.

Shade doesn’t rule out clematis either. Clematis ‘Dawn’ is a great choice for these situations.

If you’re planting in the ground, good drainage will help your clematis to thrive. Work in plenty of soil improver (compost, well-rooted manure) when you plant and water well, especially if planting through the summer. It helps to keep the roots cool, so arrange slates or stones to keep the sun off the ground above the roots. Pruning back to a pair of strong shoots 15 or 20cm above ground level is an effective way of encouraging strong growth.

Clematis is a great patio plant too. It can thrive in a pot and bring all the benefits of flowers and foliage to hard surfaced areas where it isn’t possible to plant into the ground. This flexibility also allows you to move your clematis, either around the garden, or if your domestic arrangements force you to move house frequently. Containers do need to be big enough (at least 45cm deep and 30-45cm wide) and container-grown plants will need a little more in the way of feeding and watering than if they’re planted in the ground.

Whichever option you choose, ‘Classic clematis’ is guaranteed to bring you pleasure this summer.

Seasonal highlights

Great British sporting institutions like tennis, cricket and croquet – were made for fabulous days in June. Add to this school and village sports days and you have some of the key ingredients of early summer. All we really need is a bit of sunshine, plenty of lemonade and strawberries – and a good sense of humour when the inevitable rain clouds darken the skies!

Line-dried washing is hard to find in some places. I’ve heard that some gardens don’t even have a washing line anymore. If yours is one of these (shame on you!) then June is definitely the time to give the tumble-drier a rest. The time spent pegging up the clothes and taking them down later is therapy in itself, an excuse to be in the garden if the demands of your life mean that you need one.

Don’t walk on the grass! And lie on it, read on it and (if you get the chance) kiss on it! For too long the grass was out of bounds but now wherever we live or work some reasonable grass shouldn’t be too far away for a lunchtime sandwich or snooze. In the comfort of your own garden, walking barefoot on the grass brings untold benefits to our sense of well-being – just try it and see!

 Clematis – quick guide

 Classic clematis produces exquisite summer flowers

 Beautiful flower shapes and choice of glorious colours

  • Perfect for vertical colour or screening – grow up a trellis or wire
  • Should do well in fertile, humus rich, well drained soil in sun or partial shade,
    (ideally shade root or base of plant)
  • Hardy/frost hardy and fun to grow

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