Consider some of the stunning new clematis varieties

Clematis growing up poles or tubular supports made from deer or pig netting kept upright with four strong stakes is a good way to add extra height to the garden as a series of uprights along a border, as a pair beside steps and gates, or simply as exclamation marks when a little extra height is called for.

Many varieties of clematis lend themselves to this kind of cultivation but it is the late flowering kinds – those that are blooming now – that I want to talk about for they are among the easiest to care for.

Clematis that flower in the second half of the year require the simplest of pruning: they are all cut back hard to around 40 cms (16 inches) in February or March.

What could be easier than that? There is a huge variety of clematis to choose from today so why did I hear on a recent radio programme a so-called 'expert' gardener recommend that a listener should grow 'Nelly Moser'? I wanted to scream, in fact, I probably did, where had he been for the past thirty years for good though 'Nelly Moser' was, she has long been surpassed by better varieties whose flowers do not fade in hot sun and that have better colouring, I always found her rather wan.

It's time for her to stand aside and let some of the new kids on the block strut their stuff ! I have two rather new and interesting varieties growing on a couple of supports in our Rose Garden; both are varieties of Clematis viticella.


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'Dark Eyes' is the deepest, velvety purple that is almost black when it first opens, to complement this I also planted, in the same hole so that they intermingle, a variety called 'Maria Cornelia' which has creamy white flowers with purple anthers.

They both share the same pruning and cultivation requirements and look charming flowering together.

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Actually I missed a trick with them for so good have they been that visitors to the garden here have been asking to buy them. Alas, I couldn't oblige for they are quite new to cultivation but, Thorncroft Clematis should have them, call 01953 850407 or email sales@ thorncroftclematis.co.uk website www.thorncroftclematis.co.uk I took the liberty of asking the Gooch family for some other recommendations for clematis to use in this way.

Clematis flammula is quite a vigorous variety growing to 2.5 metres (12 to 15 feet) if you only prune it lightly however, if it is pruned hard it will only grow to 3 metres (10 feet).

Treated thus it will flower from August till October producing masses of small, white, scented cruciform flowers.

Clematis 'Princess Diana' was sure to be a good seller from its launch but, it is a very good plant with an AGM from the Royal Horticultural Society. It has small, trumpet shaped flowers in a vibrant shade of rich, cherry-red and grows to 2.5 metres (8 feet). This one is also very good in pots.

I grew it here in a pot but as the pot was large I planted three around the edge which I then trained on bamboo canes that I had set at the same angle as the pot edge. The effect was like a green collar studded with small, vibrant flowers which were a brilliant foil to the pale pink pelargoniums, verbenas and silver senecio that occupied the centre of the pot. I must try this again, this time maybe using different varieties.

On a more conventional note, Clematis Jackmanii Purpurea is probably very well known but very suitable for our purpose where a strong colour is required giving us lots or rich purple blossom that would look lovely growing in tandem with the bright yellow flowers on the annual tropaeolum perigrinum whose seeds could be sown in spring around the base of the clematis.

The final recommendation from the Gooch family is a stunning plant. Clematis 'Fond Memories' is quite enchanting; it has the palest, pinkish-white flowers with the merest hint of lavender at their margins and on their tips, each petal with a sheen like satin, their backs are a deep rosy-lavender. It flowers prodigiously from June to September and grows to a height of 2.5 metres (8 feet). It was bred at Thorncroft and launched at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2004. It would look stunning with the 'black' lanterns of the tender perennial Rhodochiton atrosanguimium running through it but, perhaps you have your own ideas.

If you would like a more permanent support for your clematis you might wish to contact Jason Greenberry on 07767 867561. He has made many of the plant supports that we use in the garden here out of galvanised metal which lasts for many years being both strong and durable. You might even be able to design your own and Jason can then custom make them just for you – how smart is that?

•This article was first published on August 27, 2011.

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