Used by permission. Suzy Bale’s Garden.
Probably my favorite garden flower combination is a hardy David Austin pink climbing rose and the vivid purple Jackmanii clematis ‘Superba’. I am smitten with roses, but combined with a Jackmanii, the rose is even better.
Clematis can grow in any zone in the US, and will provide many, many years of glorious color from June 1 to mid-July and then again in September if you keep them well watered . This wondrous vine grows up to 20 feet when in its optimal environment. It can be used as a shade vine on a south-facing wall in some circumstances.
There are some great old standards, but only a dozen or so can compete with the attributes of the Jackmanii… even better yet, ask your nursery to order you a ‘Superba’, a Jackmanii on steroids.
Things to know when planning a site: It needs a fence or trellis that it can grasp, but the foremost rule of thumb is that the roots must remain cool, even during summer’s scorching heat. Using mulch or big rocks helps.
Find a site that has a minimum of 6 hours of sun for best blooming on a fence but place a low growing shrub or several large rocks south/west of the root ball for shade in the hot afternoons. A showy Pinky Winky or Limelight hydrangea goes beautifully with clematis growing above it (see bottom).
It was developed by George Jackman, an Englishman, in the mid 1800’s, and bears his name as a tribute to his work.
This particular planting is right outside the sliding door off the kitchen, so I can see it all summer into fall when I work at the sink. It is such a treat to watch the flowers sway in the wind.
I love the romance of a well-placed arbor. Flanked by some evergreen shrubs, you can allow climbing roses and clematis to intertwine (perhaps planting one on either side). The effect is stunning, and it is rather low maintenance once established.
Note how the clematis is mainly leafy stems until about 3′ up the arbor. The top flares out at this point to clamber up and over. You can place a shrub at the base to keep the roots cool or place the vine on the north or east side. It will reach for the sun, but its feet will be in shade.
Last thought: you may want to use a green Velcro tape to help the vine up in the spring. Sometimes the tops are so heavy with buds and they twine together that this aid is just the thing! I look forward to getting out of the house to ‘play’ with my plants. They will repay you for that extra care all summer.
Thanks for reading!