Photo by Missouri Botanical Garden
A Cloud of White - Sweet Autumn Clematis
If you forget this clematis for a week or two in mid-summer, it will soon climb over its neighbors and starve them of sun. However, shearing the wayward stems every week or so will keep them growing only where you want them. The reward comes in early autumn, when the tip of every stem makes a fat cluster of star-shaped flowers so close to the neighboring clusters that the whole plant turns white. The show goes on into mid-autumn (or longer, in cool weather). Stop shearing in late summer so the stems can develop flowers.
Sweet autumn clematis is fragrant, but you have to stand near the vine to smell it. When each flower ages, it produces a nest of seeds with plumes that waft away on the breeze. One vine = seeds galore. Every year I find ten or more young vines here and there in the garden. Even a young plant quickly develops a mop of roots that doesn’t want to be pulled up. If the show of flowers in autumn were not so generous, I’d be tempted to call this vine a weed.
Des Moines has been constantly rainy for weeks and I’ve stayed out of the soggy spots in the garden. Today, however, I looked out the window (click here for a photo at YourGardenShow -- please be patient, there are a lot of plant photo tags that you can view with the photo) and I saw that the sweet autumn clematis had swallowed half the red barberry. So, with the ground squishing underfoot, I cut the invading stems free from the parent vine and pulled them off the barberry, revealing branches that had already dropped all their leaves. Whoops.
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