Colour for all seasons
Daphne transatlantica ‘Pink Fragrance’
brings celebrated varieties such as ‘Nelly Moser’ with her signature large pale pink flowers with a deeper pink central bar, ‘The President’, a very old variety with deep purple pointed petals and the frilly double flowers of ‘Vyvyan Pennell’.
Late summer stars include
C. Jackmanii which will smother a trellis or fence with luxurious purple flowers, ‘Comtesse de Bouchaud’ which has mauve flowers and an attractive yellow centre – easy to grow and hugely popular – and the eye-catching crimson velvet flowers of ‘Rouge Cardinal’.
And somehow the show continues until autumn where many species will produce the most glorious silky seedheads – truly a plant for all seasons. But what sometimes has gardeners scratching their heads is how to prune them.
Official advice on this subject can sometimes be bewildering as clematis plants are divided into three groups, each requiring a different method. So here’s a way to keep it simple. If it flowers in spring, it doesn’t need much pruning at all unless it has outgrown its space or you need to remove dead or diseased wood. If it flowers in late spring and early summer, it can benefit from a little trim in winter, just cutting back to a pair of healthy buds and you could also dead head the flowers when they finish to encourage a few more later in the season.
Finally, the large lateflowering summer varieties blossom on new wood, so a good hard prune in spring will prevent them having all the flowers at the top and none at the base.
Another pointer to success with clematis is that they like their heads in full sunshine but their roots to be in cool, moist, well-drained soil. That said, some of the more delicate coloured bloomers, eg ‘Nelly Moser’, can get a bit bleached in strong sunshine. The addition of some pebbles or slate around the base will provide shade for the roots, or you can utilise neighbouring plants to provide some cover.
They are hungry creatures so an annual mulch of well-rotted manure or regular liquid feeds during the growing season are required, as well as being kept well hydrated. To boost flower power, apply high potash feed in early spring.
Finally, there’s clematis wilt. Sometimes even if you get everything right, your plant will succumb to a fungal disease and collapse. You can cut out the diseased stems completely and, if you’re lucky, some new healthier ones will re-emerge. If you’re putting in new clematis, plant them an extra two to three inches deeper which will help them recover if they do get wilt.
Clematis like their heads in the sun but their roots in cool soil
We usually associate daphnes with beautiful winter scent, but did you know there is one that will flower from April to October? ‘Pink Fragrance’ has delicious scented pink flowers which blossom on new wood and appear throughout the growing season.
It’s a semievergreen compact shrub best planted along pathways, or near doors or seating areas where it will perfume the air.
Could you tell me why my potted pear and cherry trees’ leaves are curling up and not producing any fruit? I’ve previously sprayed them because they were covered in black bugs but nothing seems to be helping.
Many fruit trees are not selfpollinating, in other words they need a partner.
There are some varieties that are self-fertile, eg ‘Stella’ is a cherry that will pollinate itself. Often in suburban situations, your neighbours will have fruit trees and their proximity will be sufficient when their pollen is carried to your fruit tree. That said, there could be other reasons why they are not producing fruit – the leaves curling up is indicative of stress which can be environmental such as too much or too little water or, more likely in your case, the aphids you have spotted.
Try and get on top of this by regularly hosing down the plant to get rid of aphids, and remove them by hand as well.