Monday, May 28, 2007

Felcos Follow Flowers; or A Simple Guide To Pruning Clematis

It's still tipping. Everything touched by the rain looks cleaner, fresher. Drenched. What a lovely word. The lime green tips of the bay tree bring a brightness to a sheltered corner of the terrace, near the Clematis armandii "Apple Blossom." This is a lovely, scented, evergreen climber, but the old leaves do take on a leathered appearance that frankly looks dreadful next to the new season's fresh young sappy growth of the bay. And the Clematis itself grows best at the tips of the previous season's growth, so left unpruned the scented flowers are taken further out of reach each year. Also, I'm plagued with vine weevils, Otiorhynchus sulcatus, in this corner of the garden, and although the roots seem to be strongly resisting the soil-dwelling larvae, the adult vine weevils chew great chunks from the leaves. And so the weekend chop. With any luck, new fresh growth will start to appear in the coming weeks, and by next spring I should have a more compact, densely floriferous scented bower in which to take my morning tea.
Clematis come with a scary pruning regime; prune hard to the ground each year, prune only after flowering, prune early in the spring, prune to 3' above ground... Really, there are only a couple of things to remember. If your clematis flowers early in the year, in spring time, prune it immediately after it has finished flowering. This gives the plant plenty of time to make new growth (including the precious flowering buds) over the summer and autumn, ready to flower again early next spring. If your clematis flowers in the summer and autumn time, prune it early in the spring, because this type of clematis flowers on growth made in the same year it flowers. The trick is not to prune out the flowering buds. There you go! Felcos follow flowers.

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