Clematis are among the most popular of climbers and with good reason. For sheer flower power, they’re hard to beat. But by this time of year, most have finished their displays – late spring and early summer is when many clematis reach their peak – and you may be missing their pretty flowers and cheerful colour. Not to worry, clematis belong to a large group of plants and there are plenty that will give you flowers through the autumn.
I’m a big fan of the viticella group of clematis which flower from mid-summer to mid-autumn, producing masses of flowers. The blooms might be smaller than the early, large-flowered types, but viticellas produce them in generous quantities!
What’s more, they’re easy to look after – pruning is simple and their strong constitution enables them to be grown in almost any situation in any garden. The only real ‘no-go’ is a boggy, waterlogged site, which no clematis will tolerate.
Really good varieties to try include ‘Étoile Violette’, ‘Madame Julia Correvon’, ‘Minuet’, ‘Polish Spirit’, ‘Prince Charles’, ‘Purpurea Plena Elegans’ and ‘Venosa Violacea’, all of which have the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit, which is only given after extensive trialling to make sure the plant deserves it.
There are autumn-flowering clematis, too, such as Clematis terniflora. It’s quite a vigorous grower so probably isn’t suitable if your garden space is limited, but if you’ve got the room, try it. It produces thousands of small, white, star-like flowers in clusters with the most gorgeous perfume reminiscent of hawthorn hedgerows in spring and would look lovely growing through a mixed hedge.
Don’t forget that many clematis produce beautiful silky seedheads to supply plenty of autumn interest. The best are the clematis in the tangutica group, such as ‘Bill MacKenzie’, which has waxy yellow-petalled lantern-shaped flowers, followed by silky, fluffy seedheads, and ‘Orange Peel’ which is a lovely golden yellow.
EVERY DAY: Ricinus communis
Castor oil plants are looking great just now. The species has big hand-shaped green leaves with spiky seedheads in pinkish shades in late summer and autumn.
EVERY DAY: Ricinus communis 'Carmencita'
This variety has the same dramatic tropical appearance, but much better leaves in a shade of metallic bronze-purple and brighter, scarlet seedheads.
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