May 24 column: Clematis

ClematisHere is a link to my column in today’s edition of The Spokesman-Review: Regal climber. It is a feature story on one of the most-loved vines for the garden, the clematis. (note: for some reason the information box that accompanies this article did not appear online so I have included it near the bottom of this post)

For the article, I interviewed Carol Newcomb, who is the owner of Northland Rosarium. She and her husband, Terry, grow all sorts of beautiful clematis — most of which were just coming into bloom in their beautiful display gardens during my visit.


They also sell a huge variety of clematis so consider taking a trip out to their nursery in southwestern Spokane County. They are located at 9405 S. Williams Ln. Here is a map from their website to help you find your way there:

And of course, they sell the most glorious hardy, own-root roses at Northland Rosarium so don’t forget to check those out, too!

ClematisWhile I was there last week, I took photos of some of the clematis vines that had already started blooming. Aren’t they just the most breathtaking flowers?

Here is the information box that goes with my article:

The following are Carol Newcomb’s descriptions of each clematis group, when they bloom, when to prune, and some of her favorite varieties within each.

Group One – Vines bloom in early spring, typically April and May, on last year’s wood. Tidy the plant in the spring, shake off old leaves and remove any broken branches. Guide new growth into position and do any needed pruning after the bloom is finished.
Carol’s picks: Constance, Pink Flamingo, Stolwijk Gold, Frances Rivis, Purple Spider, Blue Bird.
Group Two – Vines bloom later in the spring and early summer, on last year’s wood and some of the new growth as well. Prune in spring before the new growth begins: look for healthy buds and trim just above them. Trim away any damaged or crowded branches.
Carol’s picks: The President, Diamond Ball, Vyvyan Pennell, Guernsey Cream, Rhapsody.
Group Three – Vines bloom on new wood. Before new growth begins in the spring, cut the vine to the ground as last season’s branches will be dead.
Carol’s picks: Clematis texensis Duchess of Albany and Princess Diana; clematis viticella Etoile de Violette; and small-flowered clematis Paul Farges.
Herbaceous Clematis – Vines die back to the ground every year; all dead growth should be removed before new growth begins in the spring, just as you do with perennials each year.
Carol’s picks: Clematis integrifolia Blue Ribbons and Arabella.