When I see Clematis in gardens I’m surprised at how often they are just planted on their own on a wall or a pillar. When I plant them in my garden I always try to put them in combination either with other Clematis or growing through or up other plants. I do this for two reasons. First of all my garden was small so I was looking to use up every inch of vertical growing space possible. I couldn’t afford to grow just one Clematis on a pillar when I could fit six in that spot. Second I think all plants just look more interesting when they are playing off other plants whether it is complimentary or contrasting colors or different shapes and forms. A well grown plant in full bloom is exciting to me but two or more plants together can be a work of art.
Click images to enlarge.
Clematis 'Rooguchi' with its succulent purple bell flowers looks great against the pale blooms of 'Emilia Plater'. I think in combination both plants stand out more than if they were just planted on their own.
I really like to combine the dark flowers with the pale ones. In this case these are two very vigorous cultivars of Clematis. The pale 'Betty Corning' works well with the very floriferous dark purple 'Polish Spirit'.
On its own the little double flowers of Clematis viticella 'Purpurea Plena Elegans' look like wadded up spit balls. But together with the pale blue 'Prince Charles' I think it is lovely.
One of my favorite combinations is the white flowered Clematis 'Huldine' with a purple leaved Cotinus and Geranium 'Brookside'. The Clematis is planted about two feet behind the Cotinus. In early spring it climbs up the naked branches of the Cotinus, leaning on itself for support as it gets taller and taller. Eventually with nowhere left to climb it collapses and spills out in front of the little tree then starts to climb back on itself. By the time it starts blooming in mid June the nearby Geranium is also in bloom and the new growth of the Cotinus is at its deepest purple.
A closer look at Clematis 'Huldine'. Clematis can be very effective ground covers if given the right companions to scramble around with and also work really well growing through shrubs and small trees.
Clematis 'Huldine', my favorite white Clematis, with Geranium leaves.
Clematis 'Huldine' with a purple leaved sand cherry and Hydrangea quercifolia.
When I was in England my landlady had this beautiful blue Clematis 'Perl d'Azur' growing on the fence in her back yard. I added the purple and white Clematis 'Venosa Violacea' to make the display even more impressive.
So the next time you are shopping for a Clematis try planting two instead. Look for plants that have similar bloom time and pruning needs but vary in flower color shape and size.