A Complete guide to Clematis, by Peter Staggs-Gooch From Thorncroft Nurseries.

This was our first meeting of the Society since Lockdown and how lovely it was to see every one and enjoy an evening together learning a bit more about our favourite subject, gardening!

This evening we had Peter talking about all things relating to clematis. He showed us that it was possible to have clematis flowering all through the year, starting with Winter with clematis Cirrhosa Freckles or Winter Beauty and Armandii, moving on to Spring where the Macropetala group, such as Markhams Pink comes into its own. Then there are the Montana groups, known to be invasive but Freda is less invasive.

Then to move on to summer flowering and these tend to be the large flowering varieties such as The First Lady, or Pink Champagne, there are so many and new varieties coming along all the time.

For Autumn flowering we have the Tanguticas , Bill Mackenzie and the Viticellas, Alba Luxurians and Bella Corning.

All these varieties and others can be found on the Website http://www.thorncroftclematis.co.uk.

Peter then discussed different ways to grow clematis, some small ones such as Pixie can be grown in Patio pots, some scramble and some are good for ground cover, he also mentioned dead heading the flowers to encourage a second blooming later in the year.

Careful planting is the secret to good results with a clematis , and plants with a strong root system at least 2 years old; plant deeply with compost under the roots, and an application of Bonemeal and Micorrhizal fungus to encourage good growth. Clematis like a cool root system so covering with bark chippings and mulch will keep it from drying out which is one of the causes of clematis wilt.

Pruning depends on the flowering time of the plant. Winter and Spring, a light pruning after flowering although some Montanas might need more vigorous pruning to stop it getting out of control. February to March, a light pruning, flowering after June a hard prune in February or March to 2nd pair of buds from soil level.

Peter strongly recommends pruning hard all clematis during their first year to encourage a good root system and more shoots to form underground.

Peter finished his talk with questions from his audience and an invitation to view all his Gold Medal Certificates from Chelsea Flower Show.