The Clematis Addiction

Nothing comes between me and a good clematis. In fact, it’s probably becoming an obsession. In our garden I’ve lost count of how many I’ve bought in the last few years. IMG_0808

From the bushy shrub-like varieties to the sky-touching climbers, this versatile herbaceous species will thrive in most conditions. They’re easy to keep and the rewards can be spectacular.

So imagine Agent Soph’s delight (not) when two shiny, spanking new varieties turned up at our doorstep earlier this week.

We have a north facing garden, so with limited direct sunlight I try to pack as much colour as possible into our little Eden. However, the fence running down one side of our garden has always bothered me. Although in the spring and summer months it’s hidden by Foxgloves, Sunflowers, Cosmos and Bishop’s Weed, in the winter months it seems to suck out what little colour there is in the garden. I wanted something that would grow over it quickly and cover it. So I invested in two Clematis ‘Elizabeth’Clematis_Elizabeth

A vigorous climber, with pale pink flowers and a vanilla scent, this variety is very happy in a north facing environment. It can also be easily trained to grow across my fence. So hopefully in a few months’ time, it’ll not only look good but provide a little rest and recuperation for the passing bees, butterflies and bugs. clematis-montana-elizabeth-tl-01-gpp

However, despite their appeal, it would seem that some folk are a little weary of how to prune these climbing beauties. Fear not my green-fingered adventurers, clematis come in three pruning groups. 20160224_092824

Pruning Group 1 – These are a winter/early blooming clematis which flower on last year’s growth. So once flowered, cut out the three D’s (death, damaged and diseased parts of the plant).

Pruning Group 2 – These tend to bloom in early summer, so cut out the three Ds in early spring before they wake up and start growing, cutting right back to the healthy buds. These can also produce a second bloom in later summer, so once flowered, again cut back to the new buds.

Pruning Group 3 – These are a late summer, even early autumn variety, and pruning these couldn’t be easier. Simply cut all stems down to 20cm from the ground and above a pair of buds in spring.

Of course the internet is awash with advice, more in depth than my cheap and cheerful scribbling, so for more information on pruning, try the RHS website.

Hmm, that reminds me, it’s about time I looked into buying another clematis. AdeSignature

The Big Reveal

It has given me sleepless nights. I’ve tossed and turned, fretting about this, worrying about that. My fingernails have been bitten down as I’ve wrestled with my internal conflicts. Like a chess player, I’ve had to move each piece with exact precision, knowing there is no excuse for failure.

But finally, and with great excitement, I can stand back and admire my work. Ladies and gentlemen.. drumroll please.. I’m proud to present.. ALLOTMENT BLUEPRINT 2016!

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 11.12.31

So there you have it. No doubt, as the months roll by, the plan will change here and there. And of course this is only part 1. Once we get into summer, I’ll be thinking ahead to autumn and winter and will introduce swede, sprouts, winter greens and other treats onto the plot.

In the end, I scrapped my plan to knock the potato bed into the one beside it to make one large bed as I’ve decided not to grow quite as many spuds this year. However, I am considering introducing a Fig Tree ‘Brown Turkey’ alongside the shed.

Of course there are some returning visitors to my beds, not to mention my established nature hillocks on the outer borders. I may create another area for wildlife behind the sunflowers and next to the polytunnel as the large trees that surround this part of the plot have drained the soil of moisture and nutrients. As I can’t create another plot for myself here, I can at least create something for the critters.

In regards to flowers, I’m going with Cosmos, various varieties of sunflowers, Cornflowers, Marigolds, Gladioli, Foxgloves and a sprinkling of Ammi majus. Not only do they look good, but they pull in pollinators and if I’m not around, something needs to police the land for pests.

But for now I think I can afford a little downtime, take stock and look ahead to what will hopefully be a productive and fulfilling year.

21AI2158

..And so the adventure continues. AdeSignature