I have a number of ‘closet’ plant obsessions–genera in waiting for another garden in my future. One of those that I’ve let myself explore in my current garden, though hardly to its fullest, is the genus Clematis sans the large-flowered hybrids. Sure, those are nice. But I’m quite partial to the herbaceous-types, Viornas, and the cast of simple, ‘noddy’ Clematis that happily scramble their way through shrubs, roses, and the occasional trellis. To the OCD-plant collector, these dangling blossoms are more than just noddy–they’re naughty.
Clematis chiisanensis ‘Lemon Bells’ is a Korean expatriate that grew up in British Columbia. A seedling selection made at the University of British Columbia Botanical Gardens in 1992 from seed sent from South Korea in 1988, this handsome vine blooms on old wood (thus falling into ‘Pruning Group 1’ for you smarties in the room) in early summer and has proven hardy to my USDA Zone 5 garden without problem. Probably the biggest challenges to growing and loving choicer Clematis like this? Patience, cool rooting zones, and patience. Like a tree that ages to provide shade and ornament to a new property, fine vines take a little investment (I just slipped into a German accent). But the payoff is huge. Slow down and savor the ride!
A few seasons ago, ‘Lemon Bells’ came to call a rather forlorn sand cherry (Prunus x cistena) home in my garden. My dream–yellow lanterns hanging from red-leaved limbs (or at least distracting from the untidiness of those red-leaved limbs). Anyone who’s grown a Clematis knows that the mantra–sleep, creep, leap–in some instances doesn’t necessarily manifest itself in just three years. Looking ahead to 2012, I hope we’ll finally be entering the ‘leap’ years of our relationship together. I’ll keep you posted as we celebrate major milestones together in the future.