The Iceberg rose has finished flowering but there are touches of colour where this clematis is scrambling though the rose branches. It’s a small flowered variety, Arabella, chosen for it’s tolerance of shady conditions and long flowering season. The plant has already been flowering for a month and has plenty of flower buds in reserve but at present each of the five stems is opening one flower at a time. There’s a fresh flower to admire each morning but the overall impact is distinctly subtle.
In terms of sheer flower power the evergreen star jasmine (Trachelospermum) overwhelms everything else. The two outer faces of the terrace are smothered in the small white flowers, in every stage from bud to shriveled remains, and on a still evening the scent pours down to collect in the shady courtyard two floors below.
Last year the newly planted clematis was attacked by red spider mites. By the time I’d discovered what was causing the leaves to turn pale and somehow rusty looking, the plant was smothered with the tiny mites. I cut the clematis down to the base, scrapped the herbs that were also infested and hoped for clean regrowth in the spring. The gamble paid off and this year the clematis is vigorous and healthy.
Clematis varieties are classified in three groups to give guidance on the best time and method for pruning. By luck rather than judgement I seem to have hit on the right pruning method for Arabella, as small-flowered clematis are classified in group 3 or category C, for ‘hard pruning’. With less drastic treatment next February, as recommended, it may flower more abundantly next year but for now I’m enjoying the flowers one at a time.
I’ve read some very confusing advice on pruning clematis. Here’s a link to the relatively straightforward guidance of the British Clematis Society: