Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sweet Smelling Surprise

I was mowing in the lower garden on Labor Day (a fitting activity for the day, but hardly a "holiday" from work for me), and as I rounded a corner I received a momentary sensation of being immersed in honey.  I didn't stop immediately, but on the second round, when I was struck again at the same corner with a sweet scent, I hit the brakes and looked around.   There, draping over ‘Double Red’ Rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), were these little white flowers that were not supposed to be there.  

These are, of course, a Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis paniculata or C. ternifolia, whatever it is now), which self-seeded itself somewhere next to this trellis and grew unnoticed until now.  This trellis is flanked on either end by two Wisteria vines, which provide both color and a great fragrance each Spring, but in September they're a bit less noticeable, merely serving as a green window to view farther parts of my garden.  The growth of the Wisteria on that end is so thick that I couldn't easily find the Clematis vine source.

The dilemma now, of course, is whether to leave the Clematis there or to move or destroy it.  C. paniculata seems to grow very well here in this climate, and if I leave it here, it may eventually strangle the Wisteria ('Amethyst Falls’) on that end, and the adjacent Rose of Sharon.  I have two other C. paniculata, so one could argue that I've got plenty of it in my garden, but on the other hand, I'm not sure you can ever have too much of that vanilla-scented vine in an otherwise dreary August garden.  'Amethyst Falls' is not nearly as scented in the Spring as the Wisteria sinensis on the other end of the trellis, but it does rebloom for me and it is more dependable in late freezes than the W. sinensis.   

Decisions, decisions.  Are there ever any end to them in the garden? Can I hope that the Wisteria will keep the Clematis in check, allowing each year only these few delightful sprigs of scent to pull me into the shade on a hot day?


  1. I don't have sweet autumn clematis and have debated whether I should get some or not. I don't have any particular site that is aching for a vine to cover it, but I must admit that your description of the fragrance is beguiling - and I've enjoyed seeing this plant in other gardens over the years.

    Have you received any rain recently? We got 1/4" last Friday, but it wasn't even enough to keep the plants from wilting the next day. So far, otherwise, all the storms have missed us. Hope you've been luckier than we have.

    1. We had several brief spells of 0.2 and 0.3 last week adding up to about 3/4" inch. But then Sunday night...a day that started with no rain forecast at all, we got 1.8 inches. It had climbed to a 30% chance at noon, and then at 7:00 was 60%...all the time I watched an enormous storm build and go west to east right through us. Deep ground is still a bit dry but at least I'm not watching things crumble.

      Sweet Autumn Clematis is one of my favorites. One plant will perfume your whole yard for 2 weeks; place it away from the house so the prevailing winds catch it.

    2. Good Morning. I commented to you in the NoResponse Zone a few weeks back. Not enough coffee that morning I guess. Prairie Clogger is still in her pot, but growing. Plantar Fasciitis...a happy gardener does not make. I will be finally liberating her roots today, regardless. We have had a lot of nice rain here in Maryland this season. What kind of mulch do you use on your beautiful roses? Hope you have a nice day.

  2. As if life doesn't throw you enough decisions ! If it was me I don't think I could bear to give it the elbow, not when it is giving so much pleasure, but then I am a softie! Could you keep it but make sure it doesn't eat everything else ? Just a thought :-)

  3. Prof this plant seems to follow me in all my garden endeavors. For some unknown reason I have many of the same plant seeding all over the place this spring. it really become interesting when in grows in the middle of a rose.


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