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Purple Haze

May 30, 2009

Clematis in bloomAfter a gloomy and chilly rainy week, today is sun-filled and warm. I love how the sun highlights my clematis. I planted four kinds of tomatoes–Cherokee purple, grape, green zebra and a yellow one.

Between the vast stretches of weeds in my yard where most people have a grassy lawn, I have added many plants with blue to purple flowers–irises, hostas, columbine, lavendar, many others and this one clematis. Ornamental grasses serve as a backdrop with bursts of orange/yellow flowers here and there for accents.

When I see one of my plants blooming like this, I beam. I’m no gardening genius. I play it by ear and learn as I go along. I grew up on the fourteenth floor of an apartment building on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, overlooking the East River. I’m a city kid.  Now that I have a house with a large yard (with nothing but thick clay soil and poor drainage), I have lots of room to experiment. I’ve always wanted a garden and enjoy working in my yard. I spend winters pining away for the summer days when I can dig in the dirt. Eventually, as the perennials mature and my gardening knowledge expands, I hope my flower beds look like the ones I drool over in gardening books.

One plant I’d been coveting was clematis. I had been intrigued with clematis for a long while and finally planted this specimen next to a crabapple tree nearly three years ago. The first year, it was a small vine with few flowers. Then I feared it had died. Last summer, I was pleased at its growth. This year, the blooms exploded, much to my delight. The flowers are as big as a a dessert dish. I see them first thing when I enter the backyard. I thought it would be hard to grow, having read all about cutting it down at the right time and so forth. But this one seems pretty laid back for a plant. (I wish I could find the little tag that had the name of this specimen on it.)  I cut this purple beauty back twice a year–at the end of its first bloom and then in the fall. This clematis is generous and will flower a second time for you later in the summer.

I’d like to get another variety, but I have to figure out a home for it. Meanwhile, I need to read up more on clematis, varieties and care so that I feel more confident about what I’m doing with it! To start, I’m checking out the American Clematis Society. David Epstein, the former weatherman on the local news who used to do a weekend gardening segment gave up his TV gig to dedicate more of his time to gardening. I really missed his segments, but was thrilled to read about his new enterprise in a magazine. He has a site called Growing Wisdom, along with a video channel on YouTube.

What’s your favorite online gardening resource?

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 30, 2009 10:36 PM

    I like the visual of a dessert dish-size serving of those pretty purple flowers. Feast for the eyes.

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