I spent the latter part of yesterday, day 101 in The Covid, up the step ladders in my happy place knitting the Clematis montana. Here it is at the peak of its magnificence earlier this year in the middle of May.
Today was overcast, warmish (but only for England!), threatening light rain but the recent April winds had dropped to a friendlier breeze. The garden and it’s wildlife, especially the gastropods, were relieved after rain the day before and it all felt very green. Time was forgotten in a delicious lack of anything else better to do, almost 3 hours of it, while I worked methodically along its 15 metre length picking and unpicking the threads of its new growth. The general ambiance soaking in to my mood worked its wonders until I too had become a soft shade of greenish.
I call it knitting because to get this plant established over that length and looking relatively even without gaps I never prune it but methodically, and this requires some patience, proceed slowly from end to end around early July threading and tying in all the new growth rather than cutting much of it down. I try to cover any gaps and encourage new growth to continue in an east to west direction. By this time new growth has intertwined with itself and such plants can wind around stems and shoots clinging on tenaciously. These need to be cautiously unpicked in order for the whole length to be tied back in. Over time a long tube like structure of mature wood grows along the support and becomes self supporting and with new growth on the outside without loss of next years flowering shoots.
I marvel that the plant acquires all of its water and minerals for new growth at its most extreme end by capillary action along its vascular sytem a total of 15 metres. Unlike trees there is no massive trunk and all the shoots are surprisingly narrow. Even at its base the woody stems are only a maximum of 5 centimetres tops.
This plant came from a cutting from my Dad. I am quite unable to remember who was successful him or me but we were both trying for a few years to get a cutting to strike, clematis are not easy plants to propagate vegetatively. But the effort was absolutely worth it. This one is called Mayleen and in late spring when it flowers it fills all the lower garden with a most exotic scent on mild days. I know of no other Montana variety quite like it.
Off now to finish the other side, meditational mindfulness, and hoping for more of the same result, greenish all through.