Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Blankets of snow

What? Snow in September? Not quite, but Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis ternifolia) reminds me of it as drapes over hedges and mailboxes across town. It always pops up in our garden unannounced and usually in unwelcome places. For example, the hedge in the above photo runs along the street and encloses a tiny vegetable garden. I always see the clematis scampering about it during the summer and I usually just yank it out since this hedge has to be trimmed about every four or five weeks. I don't know how it escaped me this year but when it started to bloom, it was too pretty to pull it out.

The vines are covered with these tiny star-shaped flowers and will reach distances of 20-30 feet if given the opportunity. It thrives here, in sun or shade, and is very drought tolerant. I'm always digging up seedlings and sharing them. It grows fast and can easily cover an arbor or gazebo in a season. It can be cut back all the way to the ground in the fall or the following spring.

In addition to a beautiful show, the vine has an intoxicating sweet smell!

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