The Clematis Queen’s Gardening Life Lessons

Clematis 'Piilu' with a Crown and wording May Your Clematis Grow Happy

Summer is here and for many of us our clematis are now starting to wind down.  This is when we can sit back and appraise our plant’s spring performance and make plans for the future whether it be for the fall or for next year.  So, I thought it would be helpful to share some royal gardening wisdom that I have unearthed over the years.

1.  If you do not love it then dump it (and that most certainly includes clematis).  I imagine some of my regular readers out there might be thinking I may have lost it, but why waste valuable space, resources and/or time on any dud plant no matter how expensive it was.  They just remind you of your mistake.  So be brave, which means you need to move ahead and cut your losses.

2.  If a plant dies do not beat yourself up over it.  Believe it or not it is part of Mother Nature’s plan.  Over the years I have the two (okay sometimes three) plant rule.  If I try a plant I really want and it perishes (i.e. un-ceremonially croaks) I take a chance and try it again.  If I have to pitch it after giving it a reprieve because it couldn’t make it past its parole period (especially if it is on its third strike), I resign myself to the fact that it is just not meant to grow in my garden.  Boy, how I longed for Semiaquilegia ecalcarata and Omphalodes cappadocica ‘Starry Eyes’ to make it for more than one and half seasons in my garden.  I was really rooting for it (wink wink). 

3.  Buy the strongest plants (with clematis that would be the biggest plants available).

4.  Buy the best tools offered.  In the long run taking the cheaper route will bite you (if you buy cheap clippers) in…well you know where: the meaty part of your hand between your index finger and thumb.  Ouch!  Over the years the quality tools I have bought are still my go-to options in my gardening arsenal while the early, less-expensive ones have long been banished from the Kingdom (or is that Queendom?). 

5.  Do not believe everything you read (unless, of course, it was written by the Queen).  Try things out for yourself in your garden.  If I had paid attention to the naysayers when I was just a princess, I would never have grown clematis. 

6.  Expect and accept that there will be some bug damage.  Nothing in life is perfect and this is just another part of Mother Nature’s grand scheme of things.

7.  Have realistic expectations for new plant acquisitions (see Trying Out a New Clematis).  Refer to rule number one in this article if it is a dud.

I hope this helps you with your future planning and planting and that you have great summer!