Dappled shade helps to preserve the flower color of a soft-pastel clematis. ‘Silver Moon’ clematis blooms before ‘Merritt’s Supreme’ hydrangea forms flower buds and again when the hydrangea is in its full August glory.
Most clematis admirers say that it was the showy, large-flowered hybrids that first caught their eye. In my case, it was the small blue flowers of Clematis integrifolia that I stumbled upon at a local nursery that got me hooked. This 15-inch-tall delight was unlike any clematis I had seen. I did a little research and soon found myself buying more and more clematis vines.
While the original plan for my garden was focused on cutting flowers, including my favorite old garden roses, I could not imagine a garden that didn’t include my new-found clematis friends. I quickly discovered that I could incorporate them into my plan not only to cover bare walls but, more important, to mingle with my roses and perennials and fill empty spaces with color when my flowering shrubs fell out of bloom.
Over the last 10 years, my garden has expanded across my 50-by-100-foot lot, and the lines between my cutting garden, perennial border, shade garden, and raised vegetable beds have become a bit blurry. I now rely on my collection of more than 200 varieties of clematis to knit it all together. Of course, roses and clematis are a classic pairing, but experimenting with various shrubs and perennials has helped me to find other excellent partners for clematis.