Tom Karwin, On Gardening | Proper Clematis, proper place – Santa Cruz Sentinel


Care for your garden

As a result of last week’s breakdown of plant selection for a particular location, this column considers the selection of plants to be of a particular genus, in this case the clematis.

I intend to add two of these plants to my garden. One will replace a Clematis armandii that I recently removed to make room for my house to be painted. This plant grew on a downspout lid grate (also called a pipe grate) that can be searched for on Google.

This plant not only grew well, but too well. It had grown rampant to over 20 feet tall. Instead of laying horizontally over a grille like I intended, it went right up to the roof line. Anyone know what the future experience would be like?

I have since learned that a regular pruning schedule could have caused this plant to behave better as intended. I could have controlled by pruning almost to the bottom every year after flowering, but by then it was too late for careful training. It was time to prepare for the house painting (and also happened to replace the downspouts).

When the picture was finished I needed a new clematis for the downspout.

I could also use a second clematis for a second downspout that is about 20 feet from the first.

I researched the genus Clematis on the internet to aid in the plant selection process and avoid the mistakes of the previous clematis.

The clematis, which originated in China, belongs to the buttercup family and is related to Ranunculus, Delphinium, Thalictrum and Aconitum, as well as about three dozen other genera.

There are around 300 species of clematis and a large and growing number of selected cultivars and hybrid varieties, reflecting their great popularity with gardeners.

These many options require a plant selection strategy to select the two new clematis for my garden. Any clematis would grow well with full sunlight from both of my locations so I could focus the selection process on mature size, flower color, and pruning needs.

At the beginning, the genre can be divided into three cutting groups:

Spring bloomers: vigorous species and hybrids that do not require pruning other than removing the occasional tangled growth.

Late Spring – Early Summer Bloomers: large-flowered hybrids that bloom on top of the previous season’s growth and can be easily pruned in the dormant period to maintain structure.

Summer – Fall Bloomers: Hybrids that bloom on the current season’s growth and can be pruned to a pair of buds during the dormant period.

There are numerous options within each of these pattern groups. You can find useful online lists at

These lists are helpful in determining flowering times and cutting schedules, but do not provide flower colors or mature sizes for the many varieties.

Another very important aspect is the availability of the selected system.

There are many sources for this popular plant. While I was searching YouTube for more information about growing clematis, I found out about Brushwood Nursery in Pennsylvania, a mail order company that specializes in clematis. The website contains descriptions of numerous varieties and, above all, a large selection of “Clematis in Stock” that offer far more options than what local garden centers have to offer.

Brushwood Nursery offers gallon-sized plants (not seedlings in 4-inch pots) with free shipping! Although I have not yet received any plants from this nursery and am therefore not ready to support them, I like their style.

Brushwood’s current availability list can be searched using various filters, e.g. B. flowering period, cutting group, etc. and sorting categories, e.g. B. Name, price, etc.

After selecting a filter and sorting category, the site will provide a close-up photo of each variety that meets those criteria. For this process, you still have to click on each appealing photo to learn more about the particular facility. Selected gardeners must allow time for this selection process.

As in my previous column on plant selection, I will be reporting my choices in a future column as your gardening decisions should reflect your own criteria and preferences.

Expand your gardening knowledge

Last week’s webinar by the Cactus & Succulent Society of America (CSSA) on the topic of “The amazing north of Patagonia: A virtual journey through the province of Neuquén” was of course an extended experience. The moderator Elisabeth Sarnes provided expert knowledge of the rather dark cacti in this region of Argentina as well as a brief overview of the terrain and flora of Patagonia. I did not attend this webinar because I was curious about this region, but I found the session interesting and satisfying. The success was mainly due to Sarnes’ thorough preparation, very good photos and well-organized clear comments.

As I have already indicated, the “take away” is that the gardener’s investment in a webinar on an unknown gardening topic can expand one’s own garden world. This particular webinar didn’t make me thirsty for Patagonian cacti (most of which I found unattractive), but I got to know some previously unknown cacti, another area of ​​the botanical world, and the impressive hard work of a plant-hunting couple from Germany.

The CSSA holds new webinars every two weeks. The next event on February 20th will be a presentation by Gregg Starr on plants in Oaxaca, Mexico. See next week’s column for more details. However, mark your calendar when you’re ready to learn more on the matter.

Enrich your garden days

The possibilities of gardening, whether small or large, extend in multiple directions so exploration never ends. It depends on the individual gardener’s openness to new information and a willingness to grow unknown plants and pursue innovative designs. A garden with well-established plants offers comfort and botanical quality, while the continuous evolution of the landscape and the introduction of new selections support the waves of fascination.

Enjoy your garden!

Tom Karwin is a past president of the Friends of UC Santa Cruz Arboretum, the Monterey Bay Area Cactus & Succulent Society, and the Monterey Bay Iris Society, and a lifelong UC Master Gardener (Certified 1999–2009). Today he is a board member and garden trainer of the Santa Cruz Hostel Society. At you can view daily photos from his garden. Visit to search an archive of previous On Gardening columns.