A CLEMATIS FOR EVERY GARDEN
There is a clematis for almost every garden setting: there are herbaceous perennials that are ideal for the front of the border; open shrubby perennials that fill the middle ground; climbers of various heights to companion with shrubs and trees; and immense vines that can cover fences, sheds, and gazebos. Although the word clematis usually conjures up the image of a vine with dramatic large flowers, there are many different shapes, sizes and arrangements of flowers within the genus.
With more than 1000 species and cultivars, the Genus Clematis can often seem overwhelming. It is helpful to look at clematis using the horticultural classifications that the International Clematis Registry and Checklist recommends. In this registry from the Royal Horticultural Society of England, clematis are divided into small and large flowered cultivars and further divided into groups. These groups gather together plants of similar origin and care and therefore are helpful to home gardeners.
First, the ever-popular large-flowered cultivars of clematis are divided into two categories: the Early Large-flowered Group and the Late Large-flowered Group. Each of these groups are pruned differently. These are the groups that cause the most anxiety for eager pruners. Pruning is not difficult once you get used to thinking in terms of early and late. Remember that the vines in both groups are generous and there is no exact method of care and pruning for either. Each gardener should adapt the guidelines to his or her own garden.
Second, the small-flowered cultivars are arranged in many more groups, most reflecting their specific origins. The groups most commonly found are: Armandii Group; Atragene Group; Cirrhosa Group; Flammula Group; Forsteri Group; Heracleifolia Group; Integrifolia Group; Montana Group; Tangutica Group; Texensis Group; Viorna Group; Vitalba Group; and Viticella Group. Some groups are represented in the clematis trade by only a few cultivars.
(We would like to thank the Royal Horticultural Society, Wim Snoeijer and the many gardeners who have contributed their experience in refining the nomenclature of genus Clematis to make it useful and relevant to home gardeners.)
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