Plantswoman FIONA EDMOND, who owns the award-winning Green Island Gardens in Ardleigh, shares her gardening tips. Today she is looking at Clematis.

Clematis are amongst the most popular climbers, however not all varieties are without their problems to grow. Many people struggle with pruning them, siting them so as to get the maximum flowers, and pests such as slugs munching the tender new growth as it emerges in spring.

There are many different varieties of Clematis. One can be found flowering virtually every month of the year, but the most popular remain the large showy hybrids flowering in early summer. Most are deciduous however Clematis armandii is evergreen and a vigorous grower. It is covered in vanilla scented white flowers from February through to April. The Clematis montana varieties are also rampant and perhaps best suited to growing over an old stump, flowering in late spring. Both the above varieties can be pruned vigorously after flowering….even back to the ground.

Thurrock Gazette: gardening column

The large flowering hybrids such as ‘The President’ and ‘Nelly Moser’ will require pruning in early spring and again after flowering to encourage a second flush, however they can be left unpruned and a third of the old growth taken out at the base each year. It is the pruning of this group that is most confusing but my general rule is that if it flowers before June then don’t prune it, and if it flowers after June then prune it in Spring.

Later flowering varieties such as C. texensis and C. viticella which flower on the current years growth are ideal for growing as climbers through trees, shrubs and other earlier flowering climbers as all the old growth can be cut to the ground in early spring and removed without fear of losing future flowers. My favourites are

C. texensis Princess Diana, C. viticella Etoile Violette, and C. v. Ville de Lyon

Even later flowering varieties such as Clematis rhederiana with its pretty scented yellow bell shaped flowers in Autumn can also be pruned to the ground in spring.

Finally one of my favourite varieties of Clematis are not climbers at all. Infact they are herbaceous perennials, shooting from the ground in the spring, and flowering on the new growth from June onwards.

Thurrock Gazette: gardening column

In order to flower well Clematis like a sunny site, with their roots in shade. They prefer an alkaline soil so if your soil is acidic then plant them near the house walls where the mortar from brickwork will neutralise the acidity. Alternatively, clematis can be grown in containers and pots. Take care to site the pot out of direct sunlight and to water and feed regularly during the growing season.