Getting Back to Business and Clematis ‘Roguchi’

This weekend was something we have been waiting on for a while. After a pipe broke in our ceiling in January, we have been living in a nearby summer cottage while our downstairs was being renovated. For two months, we lived in someone else’s home. We are extremely thankful that we had somewhere else to go but still, it was a bit unnerving to know that a continuous stream of contractors came in and out of our home each day. We are back into our home and it is better than ever. We have the most wonderful contractor who renovated the downstairs into the home we have always wanted.

Saturday was moving back in day and boy, was it beautiful! We had temperatures in the low 50’s with sunshine here along the Maine coast. It has been months since the air was so warm. This teaser for spring had everyone out, excited to know that longer, warmer days are in our future.

Clematis Roguchi Easton

Then, today, a friend sent me a picture from New Orleans. They wanted to know if I knew a flowering vine they had found on a fence near their winter home. Ok, several things to rub in this cold winter: 1) winter home in New Orleans and 2) they already have flowering vines! The flower looks like a gorgeous clematis. Now, if mother nature could get back to business up here in Maine, we could have some flowering vines before, say, September.

Seeing this picture of a clematis reminded me of a striking and unusual clematis that we grow in our Alfond Children’s Garden at Coastal Maine Botanical Garden. Growing on an arched trellis is Clematis ‘Roguchi.’ During my first summer at CMBG, I had several guests pull me by the arm and show me the puckered, bluish-purple flowers and ask “what is it?” Without fail, when I told them it was a clematis, they would respond, “No!” The nodding, bell-like flowers are a deep purple. Since we have a fairy village at CMBG, I like to imagine that these are the skirts that the fairy ladies wear to their summer, formal events.

clematisroguchi

Clematis ‘Roguchi’ is a hybrid of C. integrifolia and C. durandii. The growth habit is that of a perennial, dying back to the ground each winter. Once spring comes, Roguchi clematis twines out of the soil to reach a height of 4-6′ by autumn. In Maine, our plants start to flower in mid-summer, just as most of our guests start to visit. We have our plants growing in full sun in rich soil amended with compost.

Here’s to spring! Here’s to the changing of seasons and getting back to the business of life and gardening. I optimistically know that all of this melting snow and rain is going to provide ample moisture to give us a summer full of clematis flowers. Are you growing clematis in your garden?

-Rodney

Images: Val Easton, Portland Monthly Magazine

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rodney eason

Rodney Eason - Director of Horticulture and Plant Curator at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, father of 4, husband to a Renaissance woman. I spent the first part of my life in North Carolina, the middle in Pennsylvania, and now I am determined to become a Mainer  while keeping my southern drawl. I consider the rhetorical question, "you're not from around here, are you?" a compliment. I love great gardens, beautiful plants, and inspiring architecture. Because of this, I am on a lifelong quest to find a garden that artistically combines beautiful plants while being centered around an evocative building. For me, this would be Beatrix Farrand's Dumbarton Oaks, with the plants of Lotusland and Chanticleer, around Fay Jones' Thorncrown Chapel. My wife and I are now making our new home and garden in a 130 year old New England house with a farmer's porch near the Damariscotta River in coastal Maine. When our kids get into college, we want to hike the Appalachian Trail as a family over a summer break. My likes (in random order): the smell of fresh basil and rosemary, bold foliage, India Pale Ale, good running shoes, Top Gear, the smell of New England in the fall (it reminds me a bit of English Leather, which my grandfather wore), and the sound of our family laughing together around the dinner table. I dream of one day owning an old Toyota 4X4 pick-up and seeing the Avett Brothers in concert.