In addition to all the showy pinks and yellows of Seattle in springtime, the stunning white canopies of Clematis armandii blossoms are currently blanketing trellises and trees in town.
Well, they are except at my house.
Ouch. We inherited this plant from the previous owner, and I don’t know what’s going on with it but every year, it has this horrible late-winter dieback issue and looks like pure hell until I prune all the dead stuff out (already worked on it some, so this sad look is actually an improvement over last month) and the new leaves come in. I have wondered if it is a site issue, as it is exposed to western winds and seems to be unhappy with January cold snaps, but I have seen others with the same orientation that are doing fine. Here’s a happy west-facer just up the street:
And this one is literally two houses away, on a north fence, but climbing from the inside so maybe that helps?
Look at all those glossy green leaves for the masses of flowers to relax on! Let’s go back to mine for a horrible contrast:
You can see here that many of the flower buds on mine didn’t even open, they just literally died on the vine:
And the few that did actually open were pretty floppy and not at all fragrant, as C. armandii is supposed to be:
Enough of that hideousness! I need to either figure out what’s wrong with it and try to help it, or put something else in its place since this yearly struggle is just too depressing for words. It’s in a place where I pass by a lot every day so whatever’s there needs to be healthy and happy!
To end on a happier note, this is probably the largest vine of any type I’ve ever seen in Seattle. And it happens to be, you guessed it, another C. armandii. It’s visible from a block away, twining into its multiple hosts:
You don’t really notice it except at this time of year, when it makes the trees and hedge appear to be exploding into white bloom.
Here is the vine’s base – it was planted what must have been ages ago on the southwest side of its host’s trunk:
Now that’s a healthy vine! Maybe I should knock on the neighbors’ door and ask for their secret…