Thursday, September 1, 2011

Clematis heracleifolia with pollinator

This is a great plant, Clematis heracleifolia, easy to grow and unaffected by pests, diseases, and drought. Plus it attracts butterflies, has a delicious fragrance, and flowers in mid to late summer. I just wish there were more places to use it in the garden. The problem is, that it's a big (3'/1m) floppy sprawling semi-woody shrub. A plant by itself is such a formless mess that nobody but me would choose it. Mass plantings are beautiful, but nonexistent in winter; we have room for them in the Asian Collections because we have a huge garden. Most of us don't operate on that scale. It can be wedged into a sunny border but is so lacking in structural definition that it can make an otherwise controlled bed look chaotic. That works for me but I'm odd like that.

Amanda moved these plants to an area above the GCA Circle last year and they're flowering nicely already. The flowers must produce a good supply of nectar; in combination with the Hostas flowering beside it, it's been a dependable location to see butterflies which are in somewhat short supply this summer. I expect the drought had something to do with than and, post hurricane, I'm seeing numbers of the disabled, flying jerkily on less than two full wings. Today was our volunteer day and Betty, Julie, and I pulled weeds, removed diseased leaves from Peonies, and generally groomed. Betty has plenty of butterflies in her garden but she's been supplying water while we haven't.

Back to C. heracleifolia, The few times I've used it in designs it's gone on sunny slopes that aren't visually important in the winter. If you have such a site, it's worth a go.

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