Gardenbug takes leave of 200 clematis

A tantalizing establishing shot of the clematis collection chez Marie

Before she left it all to move to Northern BC, oh!, was I lucky to visit Marie the Gardenbug to wander awestruck through her early-July garden – including her collection of over 200 clematis! Yes, that thought deserves two exclamation marks. If not more.

We can hardly do justice to 200 clematis here, let alone the charming, 11-acre farm near Elora, with its pond, river, rustic bridge and lush borders of perennials, shrubs and trees. Besides, like any gardener after a big downpour whose garden is about to be descended on, Marie bemoaned, “You should’ve seen it yesterday.” But, join me and let’s try.

The clematis garden was actually the last garden we visited, but let’s start here. Wish I had a better shot of the central walk and cedar arbors, built of local split-rail fencing. This hints at the effect.
Here’s the long shot. I’m hoping that Blogger will allow you to click on the image to embiggen it. Do, then come back.

Seventeen years of gardenmaking is a lot to leave behind, and a number of special plants will be moving with Marie and her husband to their new home across the continent. And there are so many that could be called special plants – most specially, clematis of almost every colour, shape and substance. They aren’t restricted to the clematis garden, either. Walk around the farmhouse with me.

Right by the entrance are the bell-shaped form of Clematis ‘Odoriba’
Dark purple Clematis ‘Romantika’ contrasts with the golden foliage of a full-moon Japanese maple
The twisty pink petals of non-climbing Clematis integrifolia ‘Aljonushka’ which Marie calls “a thug.” A nice thug to have!
As you turn the first corner, Clematis texensis ‘Duchess of Albany’ reaches out from a pillar of the porch
On the far side of the house, delicate Clematis ‘Marmori (the Estonian word for “marble’)

Just a few of the species and cultivars we met on our circuit, these rambled through shrubs, up pillars, and clambered up supports by Rusty Girl, one of my long-time favourites. Then came the wow of the large, sunny clematis garden – which also featured roses and a long, feathery bed of asparagus. Wow.

Good substance gives Clematis texensis ‘Buckland Beauty’ that glossy surface
One of the delights of the cedar arbors is the way different clematis mix and mingle like a standing bouquet. Here, bell-shaped Clematis ‘Fudo’ – a Japanese hybrid with C. texensis parentage – with C. viticella ‘Margaret Hunt’.
Many (many!) clematis were ones I’d never seen before, but certainly new to me was this one. Look at the thickness of those tepals, and see how the flowers set in neat pairs. This is a lavender form of Clematis fusca, also called Clematis ianthina.
Not all were rarities. Here are the wonderful old-fashioned white flowers of Clematis ‘Huldine’ (with friend). Marie encourages you to grow ‘Huldine’ where you can also appreciate the finely striped reverse of the tepals.
Elegant texensis hybrid Clematis ‘Princess Diana’ (set noticeably apart from C. ‘Prince Charles’), and in the background…
…one of Marie’s newer loves, Clematis viorna ‘Mrs. Harvey’. I agree. She’s a looker.
I asked Marie to ID this profusion, but I suspect we have a blend. One, Marie thinks from my picture, might be the one tongue-twistingly called Clematis ‘Sizaia Ptitsa’, a member of the integrifolia group. (Perhaps she’ll set me straight if it isn’t.)

Wish you could see them all! To browse through a bit more of her collection, check out Marie’s own blog Gardenbug World, especially here, here and here in 2012, and here and here in 2013.

When I finally asked the secret of her success, Marie shared this. (After you read it, enjoy a last couple of beauties and meet Gardenbug herself.)

Honestly, I don’t follow rules. I seldom fertilize clematis. I select varieties quite carefully though, sticking pretty much with Group 3 pruning group, the ones pruned back in early spring (sometimes in the snow even…). Ones that are famous for powdery mildew I avoid – ‘Etoile Rose’ for example.

I weed and compost around them in late autumn. In spring, I use clips to attach them to structures when they are in early growth. This is a big effort as they grow fast and furiously for several weeks and I can’t travel at that time.  Then I keep my eye on them.

There are plants that turn brown or wilt and frustrate at any time… but that does not mean they are dead. Remember the 3-year rule: First year sleep; second year creep; third year (or 4th) leap! It is even true, not just a cute saying. True for many plants, actually.

One main bit of advice is to follow instructions for planting. If they say dig a two foot hole, do so, and fill it as suggested.

For a minuscule plant (called a plug or a “liner”), I suggest leaving it in a pot planted in your garden (or veg garden) for a year or two with a stake to attach it to.

Be attentive to watering all clematis, even in early spring. If allowed to dry out by accident, they may weaken and get mildew from over watering later on. Erratic watering confuses them. Generally, they love sun.

Heading back to the front door, we pass bounteous Clematis viticella ‘Jenny’ (Cedergren).
And get a load of the unique marbling on Clematis ‘Tie Dye’ – a neat way to close the collection.
Thank you, Marie! Wishing you, yours and all your special plants a safe journey and a great new beginning. (And thanks to my good friend Lynn for getting me through the garden gate.)


  1. Helen, what a splendid overview of Maries special garden. I have enjoyed all she has shared with her 'imaginary" friends from the Farm.

  2. I've seen photos of her Clematis collection on Facebook, but I really enjoyed this look at her very special garden! How very lucky that you got to see her garden before her move.

  3. I have been one of the lucky guests at Marie's farm and incredibly lovely garden. It is one special place! And although I will miss her farm updates I do look forward to watching her future home and garden unfold.

  4. Marie is the one who let me in on the sweet 'secret' that is Lost Horizons, where I not only located my signature plant, Corydalis 'Blue Panda,' and eventually my first excursion into horticulture as a career! Her property is divine – and I speak of the wondrous woodland garden that she cultivated, which was often overshadowed by her Clematis collection. We need a National Trust here to ensure her collection is preserved. Guess I will have to ingratiate myself to the lucky new owners! LOL! Great post on a truly magical property!

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