Plant of the Month – July

Looking back at summer from a dampish day in October, I remember nice, calm, sunny days. I think we’ve has a good summer, not too hot, enough rain, bit cool at the beginning of August but this put off the asters from flowering too early which they were threatening to do – we were seriously worried that Autumn maybe a little, er, green, and, frankly, over before it had started.

A plant that has taken us right through this time is Clematis ‘Blue River’. We’ve had it a couple of years now and must have bought it very soon after its release as it only launched in 2009. Buying newly bred plants can often be hit and miss (Clematis ‘Dancing Smile’ anyone? Hope you have better luck than we did!), you plant them with good faith, do all that seems sensible and sometimes they do what they say on the tin and sometimes they sit there and linger. Oh the waste of time that is a lingerer. Just curl up and die, make a decision won’t you!

But, ‘Blue River’ is an absolute beaut; a true mid blue with a lilac central stripe and bold white anthers. Each flower is about 3″ across opening to a pointed bell shaped star. Gina found it at a plant fair in Paris but had to wait until she got back before we could buy it due to lack of boot space in the car – imagine, 3 ladies getting lost outside Paris in a hire car packed to the gills with plants, tendrils getting looped around the steering wheel , leaves blocking the windows and frayed tempers steaming up the mirrors. Modern day plant hunters in action.

The clematis is herbaceous, a type 3 variety meaning that in the spring you cut it down to the ground, it re-sprouts and flowers on the current years growth. Very easy. It is nice and vigorous or should I say healthy, as it only grows to 4-5′ tall. We grow it on a metal  support –  as it reaches the top it flops over and continues to grow and flower. We also have to tie it in as it is a scrambler and not a proper climber but this actually makes it easier to control – none of those pesky leaf stalks twisting around and catching and making life difficult.

In fact, Clematis ‘Blue River’ has been such a success we are planning on planting 2 more in the Spring. I took 3 cuttings and they all rooted. I don’t get smug about this: this is the girl who has to take 20 sage cuttings to get 3 to take!

So even though we didn’t actually buy it in Paris, ‘Blue River’ seems to have a touch of the joie de vivre about it.

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