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Plant early flowering clematis

4 April 2014
Plant early flowering clematis

Plant early flowering clematis for a truly delicious spring display, clothing walls and fences in a cascade of blossom through April and May.

The early-flowering clematis, like C. alpina, start producing fresh green leaves in late winter, followed by beautiful nodding flowers. You'll find several different varieties in garden centres, from popular 'Frances Rivis' with twisted, floppy blue flowers, to dusky pink 'Jacqueline du Pre' and pure white 'Albiflora'. C. cartmanii is evergreen and perfumed: 'Fragrant Oberon' is covered in masses of small greenish-white starry flowers in late spring. And C. macropetala has among the largest flowers in the group: 'Snowbird' is an elegant snowy white, while 'Wesselton' has demurely nodding flowers in a soft blue.

All the above are well-behaved enough for planting even in the smallest space, supported on trellis or wires or perhaps trained through a neighbouring shrub. They tend to be very easy-going, and unlike most clematis don't need pruning at all. There are two exceptions: evergreen C. armandii with starry white, almond-scented flowers, and C. montana with its huge froth of cheery open flowers in pink or white are the most vigorous early flowering clematis by far. Give them plenty of room and if necessary, trim back within bounds soon after flowering.