SMALL-FLOWERED GROUP (continued)
The vines in this group are from the Mediterranean region but do well in the Portland area because our climate more or less mirrors the climate of their home. They are suitable to other areas with mediterranean climates but do not survive in northern gardens. They are treasured here for their winter blooms which begin in October some years and carry on until the spring. The flowers are generally white to creamy green bells. Many selections have maroon freckling in the interior of the flowers. In some selections, the freckling is so dense that the interior appears maroon. Many have a gloss to their foliage. C. cirrhosa var. balearica has finely cut leaves.
These evergreen climbers bloom on the previous year’s growth. Because they can become immense over time, sometimes it is necessary to prune them fairly hard. Do this in the spring as soon as they have finished flowering. This gives them a season to regrow and produce blooming wood for the coming year. The plants in our garden take a rest after the winter but by summer begin to put on new growth. Although they are not needy of food, we like to give them a light spring feeding to promote good new growth. These vines have fine roots and should be buried at the same depth they have in their pots when planting.
We do not recommend these vines for growing in trees and shrubs. Because they are evergreen and very heavy, we like to grow them on fences and trellises. One combination that we have found very satisfying is growing Clematis ‘Wisley Cream’ with Jasminum officinale on a fence. The white flowers of the jasmine open all summer long. They are replaced by the white flowers of the clematis throughout the winter. During especially cold spells, the flowers may not open. As soon as the temperature climbs, they continue their display.
This group includes clematis from the Subgenus Campanella Section Campanella. Wim Snoeijer in his recent Clematis Cultivar Group Classification suggests that we use the name Campanella Group instead of Connata.
There are many fine clematis in this section which include plants from both Asia and Africa. Some of the most popular species in this section are C. aethusifolia, C. connata, C. rehderiana and C. repens. This last species was only recently introduced to the public as a selection from a collection by Dan Hinkley called Clematis ‘Bells of Emei Shan’.
Clematis in this group can be somewhat shrubby or climbing. Their flowers are nodding or hanging bells which can be white, cream, or yellow, sometimes with a red to purple stain. Flowering can be in any season, depending on the species. The roots are fibrous and not fleshy. Plants in this seciton should be planted at the level they are in the pot at time of purchase.
At our nursery we grow Clematis connata on a low wrought-iron fence which it easily climbs and cascades over. The small creamy yellow bells add a dainty contrast to the large, coarsely toothed leaves. Give Clematis connata lots of room to grow, but plant it were you will be able to enjoy its autumn flowers.
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