Early Large-flowered Group:
This group derives mostly from C. patens in its single and double forms. These are spring blooming plants and, as such, bloom on the wood that set the previous year. The general rule of thumb for pruning these plants is to prune them after they bloom in the spring. Some resources recommend dead-heading at that time; some suggest pruning up to a third of the plant back; and others somewhere in between. A few classic books even recommend cutting back stems at varying heights. All of these recommendations work. The vines perform best if they are fed after this pruning. Many of the plants in this section also bloom again in the late summer or early fall. It is important not to prune the vines after this second round of bloom if blooms are desired in the coming spring. (To complicate matters, here in the maritime Pacific Northwest, we have even found that many of the clematis in this group will bloom in the spring even if they are cut back in the late winter. We don't recommend this to most gardeners because it is not consistent through this group and is only true in specific situations.)
Many of these Early Large-flowered clematis have flower colors ranging from white and soft lavender blue to rich purple and blue. These are all excellent and complementary colors for spring gardens. There are pink and rose flowers as well. In addition, many of these clematis have pronounced reddish central bars on their sepals The best-selling Clematis 'Nelly Moser' is a perfect example of this. The early bloomers often have flowers that are impressively large in size.
Clematis 'Daniel Deronda' is one of the very earliest blooming blues. Its flowers are exceptionally large and generous - a wonderful display to start the season. The reliable Clematis 'Asao' is covered in its large, dark rose blooms, of great beauty Clematis 'Guernsey Cream' is true to its name, bearing its creamy white flowers very early in the season.
Most of the semi-double and double flowered clematis also are in this group. The pruning is the same as for the singles. Many of the double flowers are exceptionally weighty, especially after spring rains. A sturdy structure or shrub will keep the flowering stems from breaking. The flowers of Clematis 'Vyvyan Pennell' are spectacularly large and it would be a shame to lose them in a sudden shower. We grow Clematis 'Belle of Woking' in a Rhododendron 'Bow Bells' which offers perfect support to the June blooms. This companionship allows for an extended period of color - first the shrub blooms followed by the clematis. Once the clematis is finished blooming, we cut off the top third or so of the vine, feed, and allow the rhododendron to take its place as an evergreen background shrub in a summer border.
20300 NW Watson Road
Scappoose, OR 97056
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