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Blog - Clematis Advice

Named after Ruths Parents - clematis Dorothy Tolver & clematis Geoffrey TolverRuth Gooch, founder of Thorncroft Clematis has written for many National and International publications and now she will be producing us some wonderful articles for our clematis Blog which will be a mix of informative, pictoral and entertaining pieces that we hope you all enjoy!

Confession Time! Written by: Ruth Gooch - 19th December 2016

The last few days I’ve been having great fun raiding the nursery for some of my favourite clematis ready to go into my new garden - still a building site at present! On numerous occasions over the years, I have been asked which my favourite clematis are – that is such a difficult one to answer and I would usually reply that ‘it’s probably the one I’m currently looking at’.

However, as we’re not getting any younger, and this is our ‘retirement’ bungalow after all, I have to make the garden as low maintenance as possible and therefore I’m being really strict with myself in selecting only clematis that require minimal care – those in the ‘Tidy After Flowering’ bracket which, once established, can pretty much look after themselves – and also those that can be Hard Pruned, they’re so easy. If my late friend Jimmy could carry out hard pruning from his wheelchair that surely gives us all inspiration to carry on regardless!

Plants, and especially for me, clematis, often bring back many happy memories, and therefore many that I choose for our new garden will have great significance from the past thirty plus years of clematis growing!

So far, the only Light Pruning clematis I have taken are ‘Dorothy Tolver’ (named after my mum so I must have her) and ‘Pat Coleman’ (a customer, who became a dear friend, she discovered this seedling clematis in her garden – and it’s a fantastic doer).

Over this winter we really want to get planting lots of trees and shrubs to make the ‘bones’ of our new plot and then, once they’re established, I can run some clematis up through them – I have this great vision you see and I’ve always been a great believer in growing clematis as companions to other plants! Clematis are ‘lovely’ grown on their own – but – grown as companions to trees, shrubs and climbing roses they become ‘wonderful’!

We will just have to be much more vigilant in keeping the rabbit population under control than we’ve been of late in the old garden, as these charming looking little creatures have a habit of continually pruning clematis! One of the downsides of living in the countryside!!

The eastern boundary with our new neighbours is an established, very tall, deciduous, mixed hedge and, whilst that is lovely, it really does need something evergreen running up through it to give a bit more privacy to us on either side. And, with this in mind I have selected some Armandiis, including my favourite ‘Apple Blossom’ which is just gorgeous with its pink buds opening to the palest pinky-white – and of course all the Armandiis have a delicious fragrance which I’m sure our neighbours will also enjoy.

Also evergreen and destined for the same area, I picked out the winter flowering ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘Wisley Cream’ (from the Cirrhosa Group) – I love them both equally and long to see their pure white nodding bell-shaped flowers cheering up the skeleton-like branches of the hedge in winter – that will be a treat to look forward to! And also on my raid I have found that Peter has in stock some nice plants of cirrhosa ‘Lansdowne Gem’ – I’d better seek permission before ‘nicking’ a couple of those as he hasn’t too many! I must have that though to remind me of the months Peter spent in New Zealand way back, spending time with Merv Jerrard who introduced this ‘gem’. Oh, and ‘Advent Bells’, is another evergreen that I really must have – this was raised by our friend Roy Nunn and, ‘wow’, the plants Peter has in stock are ‘fab u lous’ (OK, I’m a Strictly fan!).

And then there’s the ‘Clematis Walk’ I have planned – but that’s a story for another day…….!