This is an old friend. It is our Clematis Bonanza vine which was one of the very first plants that we planted when we moved to Glen Road. That first Spring and Fall seem so far away. One of the reasons we bought the house was the big yard and many gardens that were dispersed around the property. Some gardens were nicely planted and others were vast mud holes. I knew that I could revive my gardening skills put away when I moved out of my childhood home in Iowa at age eighteen and make the gardens plush with vines, plants and flowers. Little did I remember that taking mud to plush meant a lot of blood, sweat and tears. That first year I lost almost as many plantings as ones that grew. Eventually, I realized that to make a dent in the mud, I would need to envision what I wanted in a certain area, research what grew in our area of Connecticut that looked like my vision and then utilize that particular plant in my garden. In other words, just because something was pretty didn’t mean that it was going to survive the hot Summers and freezing Winters that Connecticut has to offer. From my studies, I found the Clematis as the perfect flowering vine to cover my backyard fence. It did not prove me wrong and flowered there for the last five years.
Then I thought we had destroyed it. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we did some construction to our home over the Winter and Spring here on Glen Road in an area that was heavily planted. We worked very hard with some landscapers to relocate many plants that we knew we could use after the renovation. However, we were told that the Clematis would most likely not make the move so we just left it where it was. I figured it would be driven over, built upon and then destroyed and we would need to start fresh with new plants. To my surprise this Spring, a large section of it rose from the ground and attached itself to the new fence that we had installed around the backyard, two feet from where the old fence once stood. It did what it had done for the past five years. It was amazing given the amount of construction work that went on in the area where it grew and prospered. When I noticed it this Spring, I got a wide smile on my face and laughed. It was if it was saying to me ‘ha ha ha, you can’t kill me off that easy’. I’m so glad that we didn’t.
Clematis is a genus of about 300 species within the buttercup family Ranunculaceae. Their garden hybrids have been popular among gardeners beginning with Clematis jackmanii, a garden standby since 1862. More hybrid cultivars are being produced constantly. They are mainly of Chinese and Japanese origin. Our Clematis Bonanza was introduced at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2006. This free-flowering Clematis blooms from midsummer into September. We have let Bonanza, with its purple-blue blooms up to 3 inches wide, grow along our backyard fence with much success. It is a hardy and vigorous vine and generally shunned by deer. This is always a good thing for our deer-ravaged part of Connecticut. Our only concern at this point is around the amount of sun the Clematis is receiving each day. Most Clematis prefer the full sun with some shade around its roots. Our new construction shades the Clematis for most of the day. We will need to keep an eye on it to make sure it can survive with only a few hours of direct sunlight.
So hats off to you Clematis Bonanza and your ability to survive against even the hardest of times. We are so glad you did. Here’s hoping you have enough sunlight so that we can bring you some new brothers and sisters in the Fall to help you fill in that backyard fence. What are your favorite ‘children’ living in your garden?