Thursday, June 22, 2006

Clematis woes, and the Storm

We had a colossal thunderstorm yesterday. The timing was good for me, though; I'd just finished planting a poor, forsaken clematis which I'd picked up on the clearance table at Canadian Tire. I finally gave up on that climbing rose (White Dawn, I think) I planted last year in front of the porch post out front; it would grow tall, but hardly had any roses, and it was continually under siege from tiny caterpillars. I'd find them out there every morning, and they chewed through new leaves without mercy - it was disgusting having to pick them off and squish them every day, and it never did any good. The rose also had lots of painful little thorns, and the canes were so delicate, they'd break whenever I tried to train it up the trellis. I finally figured it was more trouble than it was worth, so I took it out.

I decided that the spot seemed especially suited to clematis, because it is in full to partial sun at least until the early afternoon, but there's a big 'Striptease' hosta growing right in front - cool roots, hot top. Now, I've never had much luck with clematis; I planted one out back when we first moved here, next to the shed, and had fond visions of a rustic little hut half-hidden under purple blooms. But then I put the rhubarb right in front, that got so big, it just smothered the clematis. Cool roots are one thing, but this is so huge, the clematis can't make it to sunlight! I never could figure out the pruning, but it didn't matter, because it always broke off somewhere and by spring there would be no sign of it.

Until this year, though. I went out to look at the rhubarb a week ago or so, and to my astonishment saw a sturdy single clematis vine rising up behind it, and twining itself around the trellis on the shed! I'm just going to leave it now; not even going to TOUCH it, because it's the kiss of death whenever I try to do anything with that clematis. If it gets a flower, fine - it seems to know what it's doing, so I'm just going to let it go with no kibbitzing.

This new one is called 'Red Cardinal', and has a lot of very small stems twining around; it was about 18" long when I got it, and I had to carefully disentangle it from some others. It came with some flower buds, and one looks set to open today. The transplant went very well - I got a bucket of compost/leaf mold from the bin at the back, which should make it and the hosta very happy, I watered it, then sat down to watch the sky getting darker and darker.

Anyone could tell that a storm was coming, but the guys next door were playing horseshoes in the back, and were determined to stay out as long as possible. I sat under the front porch; the wind increased, the sky grew very dark...clink...clink went the horseshoes. Then... DOWNPOUR!!! Those poor fellows would have been soaked to the skin by the time they ran back to the house; it was like a firehose shooting down. A little bird flew under the porch with me and perched on a bracket holding a hanging basket. I could barely see across the street through the haze of rain. After 10 minutes, hail. I'm not surprised they were warning about tornadoes in the vicinity. I looked out the back window, and saw that the kids had left the garden hose on! Sheesh...I had to run out, turn it off and run back in again. Time to change my clothes, I was soaked to my underwear.

After it was ended, a beautiful double rainbow. The extra soaking must have pleased the clematis, because not a single leaf was wilted after the transplant. Things cooled down, and the wind picked up as we went into evening. The next morning, I found an empty bird's next lying on the thyme in front of the birdbath.

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