Friday, October 29, 2010

Missing "Friend'?

Friday, October 29, 2010

40 degrees this morning and windless. I expect as the sun rises, the front will begin to change and the next weather system will descend. I was hoping for one more day in the 60's to make working outside more pleasant but the weather folks say it won't happen. Alex helped me pour some footings for a machine shed yesterday and we have to finish that cement work this morning and then get down to the nursery and flush and drain the big sprayer one last time. Gail has almost all the potted plants cleaned up and ready to cover. We'll wait a few days as they dehydrate faster than you might think over the winter so we like them to be well watered before covering them. Rain, maybe a little snow, are on the way.

I know I am a busy gardener when it finally occurs to me that I have lost a plant friend and didn't even know it. I had this autumn clematis (above) growing along the split rail fence at the house for years. Yesterday I noticed its absence. Earlier this summer I noticed that the Clematis tangutica were a lot smaller than before and that should have been a clue that last winter was the culprit. January had a few days when high temps hit 48-50 and brief thaws continued each month during the entire winter.

Clematis tangutica, summer and fall

Autumn clematis was always a friend to me. I cannot remember where I bought it but suspect I may have bought in a few clematis years ago when I was looking for some vining plants to add some "vertical " to my shade garden here at the house. The white blanket tossed over the split rails looked so nice each fall, accompanied by the tall anenomes and the last of the 'So Lovely' and 'Miss Amelia' daylilies.

In warmer climates autumn clematis is known to generously drop a bazillion seeds and find itself on invasive lists. I never found that to be the case here although tangutica occasionally succeeds in reproducing here. Seed production is plentiful ( picture just above) so in the right climate, here's another potential troublemaker for the garden and the environment.

Everyone has plants they like even if they tend to become roguish, undisciplined or even carry an "invasive" name about. Some clematis might fit this category and perhaps sweetly scented autumn clematis is one. Just the same I never placed it in the same category I place loosestrife, garlic mustard, wild parsnip, Japanese knotweed, goutweed or hogweed. Perhaps it is just another "eye of the beholder" thing as one of New England's oldest nurseries still sells goutweed as if it is a beautiful ground cover. I have found hogweed at a reputable nursery in Bainbridge, Washington and just noticed it listed in a catalog from a very reputable Vermont nursery. The tricky part is understanding how plants grow in your zone while at the same time understanding and promoting information on any plant (like hogweed) that has serious health risks, shades out important natives, has dramatic impact on riparian structure....that's the thinking that I believe needs to go along with every plant nurserymen sell.

So here on the mountain above Peacham Pond, my perennial autumn clematis was not roguish and is now history. Perhaps fellow gardeners can help me with recommendations of other fall blooming white vines that can serve as a bright light along my split rail fence.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where Canada geese are flying low and honking loudly this morning. Perhaps they just lifted off the pond or the reservoir. In some places in New England, just like Clematis tangutica, they have become a nuisance. Here they have a majesty I enjoy as I tip my neck skyward and twirl in circles trying to locate a flock and verify where they are heading. Everything can be beautiful.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener
Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook as George Africa and also as Vermont Flower Farm and Gardens
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm

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