Six on Saturday: Grand

Clematis montana ‘Grandiflora’ above is climbing very grandly through the hedge, not only exceeding anything it has ever done before but also exceeding any expectation one might have of on seeing the ground in which it is growing – reclaimed from a straggly section of hedge back in 2013, the ‘hedge border’ is once more looking more like hedge than border and needs attention. WANTED! Attractive small shrubs that can cope with dry shade required: apply now!

Joining the clematis to make up today’s Six on Saturday, the popular meme hosted by Jon the Propagator, are a random assortment of things, inspiration for a common thread to run through my selection having failed me. However, let’s continue with another clematis, C ‘Alionushka’, growing in one of the main herbaceous borders. I added a number of these sprawling herbaceous clematis to the borders a couple of years ago but they hadn’t done very well, a fact I mentioned to the friendly owner of Hawthornes Nursery, a clematis specialist I discovered when I was searching for a specific variety. He advised me that although they can sprawl in a border they will generally do better with some support; having been pruned right back last year, once they began making new growth again I gave them each an obelisk to climb up and am pleased to see that they are all thriving for the first time. The obelisk also adds height to the border.

Realising my third contribution is also a clematis, I now see it would not have been too hard to find three more and have a clematis theme, but too late for that now! This one is C koreana ‘Amber’, with whom I have a fairly ambivalent relationship unsure whether I like her or not. Bought when I was replacing some lost spring flowering varieties, I think my choice must have been limited due to others being out of stock, so I gave her a chance. She hasn’t fully justified her place on the clematis colonnade yet and her blooms are generally more of a cream than amber, but she is quite frilly I suppose, which is one thing in her favour.

Definitely in favour is Rosa ‘Crown Princess Margarita’, one of a pair on an arch just outside the kitchen windows, where I have been able to watch the progression of this season’s blooms at close quarters:

Also catching my eye today was the bark on the small Acer griseum in the bronze heuchera bed, which hasn’t done much in the way of peeling yet, not till now that is – it reminds me of cinnamon sticks:

Finally, I found this nest on the ground when I rambled this morning, not one of this year’s but one built in the ‘bus shelter’ in a previous year when it was probably occupied by a blackbird. We will never know why it has suddenly been dislodged but they will probably be tweeting about it in the bird community – perhaps a jealous blackbird not taking any chances with its rivals? This year we certainly have at least 3 pairs nesting somewhere in the garden – there is so much cover available that we often don’t find out where the nests are till leaf fall or pruning time, but sometimes you can hazard a guess when you see a parent disappearing into the hedge. I was interested to see what the nest was made up of – a very solid affair, comprising almost entirely moss and dead clematis stems, with an odd bit of string added for good measure. The clematis colonnade is only a couple of metres away, so the nest-builder has not had to go far for building materials.

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21 Responses to Six on Saturday: Grand

  1. bcparkison says:

    Nest building is an art. Nice color in your garden.

  2. carolee says:

    You are so far ahead of us….roses are just leafing out here. I planted 7 more today!

  3. Brian Skeys says:

    The Acer griseum and the heuchera look wonderful, I copied your planting idea last year except I did it by my Siberian Cherry.

  4. Chloris says:

    A lovely six. I adore C. Korean Beauty, yellow, frilly flowers and it blooms again in September. Fabulous. I have quite a few C. montana and I love how they sprawl about and make such a wonderful show. Crown Princess Margareta is a wonderful colour, I wonder if I could squeeze her in somewhere.

    • Cathy says:

      Climbing in trees (or hedges) seems to be the best place for them – I was starting to look for possible places in case some of my mystery clematis were montanas, but I don’t think they are. I am sure you could squeeze a royal princess in and you wouldn’t regret it… 😉 I have begun hankering for the Queen of Sweden but as yet have not got a suitable spot but I am sure where there is a will there is a way!

  5. tonytomeo says:

    A more practical solution to the need for appealing small shrubs for dry shade would be vegetation management of the Clematis montana. Like many vines, it can get aggressive. The bit of it here is not so overwhelming, but it is sneaky, and comes up quite far from where it was planted, to overwhelm smaller plants. It is left to bloom because it is so awesome, but then gets violently torn out back almost to the original plant. If it were in my landscape, I might be inclined to eliminate the bland shrubbery, and allow the Clematis montana to do whatever it wants to do. I would still ‘manage’ the bulk of it, but could allow it to stay spread out over a large area. I really like the elegant bloom.

    • Cathy says:

      It’s not the clematis that is the issue, it is the hedge that is encroaching – holly, ivy, symphoricarpos, et al. I cleared the area completely seven years ago and planted up the area, but things fail to thrive there because the soil is quite dry. Thinking about it, I might move some ferns here, the ones that can cope with such conditions

      • tonytomeo says:

        Well, ivy will do that too! Symphoricarpos seems like an odd one there. It is native here, but does not get too bulky. It is very much an understory species. Is it rare there, or popular for dry shade?

        • Cathy says:

          Symphoricarpos is a native here too, in a very scrubby form – not attractive at all.

          • tonytomeo says:

            Oh, I was not aware of that. I thought we had a monopoly on it. That would explain why it looks so different in pictures. It must be different species.

  6. tonytomeo says:

    Acer griseum is rad there. I noticed the only specimen here recently while inspecting something else in its landscape. The bark is nice, but the canopy is always so awkward. It looks better this year than it has ever looked. I thought I might need to cut it back, but at the rate it is going, that will not be necessary. It is branching better. Since the canopy is not much to look at, the branches are nice. The lower portion is at basement level, so I do not mind that it is a single trunk. It branches into two main trunks with a few lower branches visible on the first floor (above the basement), so should be really nice as the upper branches mature upstairs.

    • Cathy says:

      Yours sounds an interesting speciemen, Tony – mine has a long way to go yet!

      • tonytomeo says:

        It had not been interesting enough. It had been overwhelmed by overgrown silverberry that climbed so high into an adjacent bay tree that I needed to start pruning it on the upper floor (which, counting the basement, is three high ceilinged stories up!) It was just a lanky trunk that split into two lanky vertical limbs when I found it. I intended to cut it back to the main trunk to branch again and fluff out, but I never got around to it. While neglected, it branched on its own, so does not look so ridiculous now. It is still not very pretty, but it sure is trying.

  7. Heyjude says:

    I have C koreana ‘Amber’ bought because it likes shade and will grow in a pot. Last year it produced a few green flowers – well I thought they looked more green than amber – this year a few more and yellowish. The flowers are actually pretty, but hard to see among the greenery. I should have bought something with a more vibrant colour.

  8. Anna Higgins says:

    Clematis ‘Alionushka’ is a beauty Cathy. I’m glad to hear that she is responding to the support you have provided. We have a blackbird’s nest under our gazebo. Is was occupied until a few days ago but we have since found fluffy feathers on the ground and there has been no more sightings of
    adults flying in and out. There have been magpies in the vicinity – say no more 😢

    • Cathy says:

      Oh no, that is awful to contemplate, Anna! We rarely get magpies in the garden, but do have the occasional sparrohawk but they get a better meal from a woodpigeon and I don’t begrudge them it! Here, we have at least 3 pairs of blackbirds that have nested somewhere in the garden

  9. cavershamjj says:

    i rather like your koreana clematis, not seen that one before. very nice.

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