Lace-like veils of purest white appear tossed over shrubs and mid-sized trees from our northernmost tip to Stewart Island.
Margaret Barker is completely enchanted by clematis
It’s the annual flowering of our much loved Clematis paniculata. Most continents and many countries have native clematis but New Zealand’s clematis are special and different.
Ours have male and female flowers on different plants. They are dioecious. Most foreign clematis flowers have a texture that is matte; Clematis
paniculata shines like stars in the firmament. And we have an alpine.
A lusty climber, Clematis paniculata is much-loved as a garden plant.
It’s conspicuous in flower but retains a chaste beauty.
A good deep soil that does not dry out is required. Let it head for the sun on a shrub, tree or wooden fence. It doesn’t like wire or metal supports.
Male flowers are larger, but females have the added bonus of fluffy, decorative seed heads. Both are required for seedlings in your garden, perhaps to naturalise. Larnach Castle garden boasts a particularly good selected form which I planted many years ago. It now tops a totara tree.
Climbing clematis can be propagated by taking internodal cuttings.
For most plants, a cutting is taken just below the node. That’s where the leaf or leaves join the stem. Clematis cuttings strike roots taken halfway along the stem between the clusters of leaves. Put the cuttings in a deep pot of sand or perlite, perhaps mixed in with peat. Put a plastic bag over the top to ensure the leaves don’t wilt, put in shady place then wait patiently. I demonstrated this method using
Clematis paniculata to our apprentices. Fortunately for my credibility, the cuttings rooted. Plant out deeply, up to the node. Another set of roots will form.
A delicious perfume hangs sweetly in the air of our South Seas Garden.
Coloured like rich jersey cream with a golden eye, Clematis forsteri is in flower. This plant is seldom seen in New Zealand gardens, or in gardens anywhere. I don’t know why. Is it not in the shops? I grew my plants from seed, planted them out in a sunny spot and they grew. They flower on last year’s wood so don’t require pruning unless they need a tidy up.
A sensation in elite gardening circles around the world was created when the alpine Clematis marmoraria was discovered in the early 1970s.
An alpine clematis, it is rare, known only from a few locations: crevices in rocky sites in the marble mountains of northwest Nelson.
It’s a little sub-shrub which sends out runners. White flowers with six sepals are 2-3cm across with prominent yellow anthers or carpels. It’s so tiny and lovable.
I’ve had one plant, a male, for many years and recently a friend gave me a pot of seedlings. I decided to plant them out in the rock garden by my original plant.
I amended the soil with lots of grit and some dolomite lime. I tipped the plants out of the pot and discovered they had enormous roots, many times the size of the leafy top.
They have thrived. By that I mean they grew from 2cm to 4cm across. Then last spring one of the new plants flowered: a female. I was rewarded with one seed which I sowed and I now patiently await the spring. Will this seed germinate?
Clematis paniculata on totara tree.