A quick walk around the the garden reveals that most of the clematis are a complete mess, the snow and high winds have taken their toll and the late flowering tall ones have collapsed into a tangle of jumbled stems. In a couple of months they need to be cut down to within a couple of feet of the ground -- I usually cut them to just above the first bud. Brutal as it seems they will shoot up and flower more evenly after this treatment. A couple of them I will transplant at the same time as they have outgrown their spot. It’s vital to know what time of year your clematis flower, if you hack back the earlier flowering ones in this manner you will lose most of the years bloom.
In the front of the house we've trained the small yellow flowering clematis tangutica along wire hoops that cover the drainpipe. The weight of the snow and the winds have torn the supports away from the house and the clematis is flopped on the ground and over the cable wire running to the house. It's too cold and miserable to do much now but the first decent day I'm going to have to re-ty the supports and prune back the clematis.
The climbing roses and clematis trained against the side of the house are a disaster. The supporting wires have broken away and are now waving in the wind and the roses are a rampant mess. It’s going to take hours on a ladder in the spring to prune back and control the mess.
I still have more clematis to plant next year. C. Jackamanii is still my favorite with flowers of deep purple velvet covering it during the summer. Someone had planted it against a trellis by the kitchen window of our New Jersey house and I’ve loved it ever since. When we moved I was so attached I was tempted to dig it up and take it to England with us, but didn’t fancy getting caught by customs over a common climber. I later heard the people who bought our house razed it to the ground, heartbreaking. If it’s cut to the ground in early spring you avoid the usual tangle at the top of its growth and it’s breathtaking.
Another clematis I cannot live without is the pink flowered C. Montana. It flowers early in the season, and is a bit of a rampant thug -- I’ve planted a couple by the wood piles hiding our compost heaps. It copes with the shade at the edge of the woods and isn’t as vigorous. Once it’s flowers fade you’re left with a lot of green so is good to plant along with a later flowering clematis or rose.
Other early flowering favorites are the purple flowering President and the white Henryi. These two are fabulous training into the lower branches of a climbing rose, I plant them about 3 feet away and tip the bamboo supports they are trained on towards the rose, the tendrils will soon start clambering along the rose stems. I’ve never had much luck planting them in the same hole, after a while competition wins out and the rose roots overwhelms the clematis which suffers a lingering death