Tagawa Gardens Blog

Up and out – vining perennials for your Colorado garden

June is National Perennial Gardening Month, so why not celebrate with a few new perennials…. vining perennials that grow up and out?  Tagawa Gardens Perennials Department has some amazing choices for people who want to add a whole new dimension to their garden with plants that grow up a tall trellis or out along a fence.

For suggestions from our experts, I tracked down six of our most experienced gardeners who love perennials and grow them at home.  I was curious about their favorites, and I love their choices!  Pictures and details of all of their “nominations” are on our Plant Finder at TagawaGardens.com

Read on!

Sweet Autumn Clematis, Tagawa Gardens, DenverThey’re growing clematis…. lots of clematis!  Starting with “Sweet Autumn”

These beautiful flowering vines win this popularity contest hands down.  But there are lots of varieties of clematis…. different flower shapes and colors…. different bloom times…. different heights.  So where do you start?

Jill is a veteran of the Tagawa Gardens Perennials Department.  Her favorite clematis is “Sweet Autumn.”  Why?  Easy.  She says “it’s massive, beautiful and tough.”

How massive?  Massive with a capital “M.”  Jill says has a Sweet Autumn clematis in her yard that has grown to cover a 35-foot stretch of fence. That one’s in full sun.  A second Sweet Autumn that’s growing in only 4 to 5 hours of sun is about half that size.  I say “woof!”  If they’re grown going up instead of out, they can reach 20-feet tall and 24-inches wide.  A very sturdy trellis or strong fencing is a must.

Sweet Autumn has tiny white flowers by the thousands.  As the name implies, it’s a late summer/fall bloomer.  But what a show!  As a bonus, those tiny white flowers smell like jasmine.  Woof again!

Like all clematis, Sweet Autumn likes to have “cool feet.”  Okay, cool roots, but we gardeners tend to personify our plants.  Keep the roots cool by mulching them well. Just be sure to keep the mulch a couple of inches away from the crown of the plant, where it emerges from the ground.  Some shorter, well-chosen perennials planted at the base of the clematis can also keep the sun from heating up the clematis’ roots, and look lovely in the process.

clematis jackman tagawa gardens denverIf you like purple, you’ll love “Jackman

Roxann is also on the Tagawa Gardens Perennials Staff.  Her top-scoring clematis is “Jackmanii,” or “Jackman” for short.  Get this:  Roxann has a Jackman that is 29 years old!  She says it’s been moved several times (including a trip that brought it from Wyoming to Colorado), and it’s still thriving!

Jackman has stunning royal purple flowers in late spring and early summer.  And it can continue to show off with another flush of blossoms in late summer.  A mature Jackman will grow up to 10 feet tall and 24 inches wide.

Jackman is one of the oldest varieties of large-flowered clematis.  It is truly a workhorse, and would be a great choice for gardeners who’ve never grown a clematis before and would like to give them a try.

clematis polish spirit tagawa gardens denverHow about a little something that is “nearly indestructible?”

Keeping with the purple theme, Linda of our Perennials Department can’t say enough good things about “Polish Spirit” clematis. The flowers are a beautiful, rich purple from summer to fall.  She describes it as “a sea of color.”  Like many other clematis, a mature Polish Spirit will grow up to 10-feet tall and 24-inches wide.  It prefers cool feet, please.

The Plant Finder on the Tagawa Gardens website says Polish Spirit is “very showy,” and “doesn’t know when to stop blooming.”

clematis comtesse be bouchaud tagawa gardens denverIf pink is your color, a French countess may be your plant!

Clematis “Comtesse de Bouchaud” is a favorite of Lisa, another member of Tagawa’s Perennials Staff.  It has wonderfully feminine rosy pink blossoms with pale lavender overtones.  Lisa describes “Comtesse de Bouchaud” as a “lovely, reliable bloomer.”  The star-shaped blossoms make a stunning show from June into fall.

Like many other varieties of clematis, the Comtesse is far more durable and rugged than she appears.  If you want a delicate-looking but tough flowering vine, this aristocratic perennial may be the perfect choice.

clematis bush tagawa gardens denverNot every clematis is big and bold

Lina has been with Tagawa Gardens since she was a pup… That’s not to say that she’s a pup no more. Lina has one of the finest gardening minds I know.  When I asked her about her favorite clematis, she quickly responded (in her endearing Aussie accent) “There are so many!  I can’t stand it!”  That means she’s in love with a lot of them.

So given her book-like knowledge of such things, I wasn’t surprised when Lina chose a clematis that isn’t big or vining or loaded with tennis-ball-sized flowers.  But I’m including it here anyway, because after all, it’s Lina!

One clematis Lina couldn’t do without? “Bush clematis.” This shrubby little plant has charming sky blue flowers with lavender overtones.  Bush clematis can grow up to three-feet tall and 24-inches wide.  It doesn’t need a trellis or cage, but would be happy to have some other perennial buddies nearby that it could use for a little extra support.  The Tagawa Gardens Plant Finder describes the somewhat bell-shaped blossoms as “nodding.” They are charming indeed.

honeysuckle major wheeler tagawa gardens denver

If clematis isn’t your thing… and you love humming birds… how about a honeysuckle vine?

Ginger is the Supervisor of Tagawa Gardens Perennials Department.  Her favorite vining perennial?  “Major Wheeler” honeysuckle.  It sounds like it’s a show-stopper!

Major Wheeler is big and bodacious!  Ginger says the Major starts its flower show in mid-spring and keeps going ‘til mid-summer.  A mature wine will have thousands of clusters of red to coral-red tubular flowers with bright orange throats. That adds up to hummingbird heaven!  Ginger says the display is “in your face” color.  What more could you want?

Check out all of these wonderful vining perennials and other vines at the Plant Finder at TagawaGardens.com—just click the “Vines” plant type and click on the other characteristics you want and see what you find! And come ask our experts about the plants they know and love so well.

More Perennials…

Luan shows you how to prune two different types of clematis vines (A or 1 and B or 2).

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Luan Akin
About 
Luan Akin
Tagawa Gardens Outreach Ambassador

After 30 years as a news reporter for KCNC TV in Denver, Luan Akin was ready for a change. In 2008, she came to Tagawa Gardens and offered to create a brand new position: Garden Outreach Ambassador.

Luan had trained and volunteered as a Douglas County Master Gardener for ten years. In addition to her duties as a news reporter, working primarily out of the Channel 4 News helicopter, Luan also produced and presented a long-running series of stories called “Gardening Together.”

All these years later, Luan now works year ‘round, presenting a variety of gardening and nature-related topics to hundreds of children, HOA’s, gardening clubs, church groups, small businesses and other organizations.

She is an avid gardener, a beekeeper and a proud mom to four dogs who have trained her well.

2 Comments

  1. Stephanie Graham

    August 1, 2017 - 3:08 am
    Reply

    I have a new vine that has dark black green smooth edge leaves, and has little looks like strangling tentacles coming off of the tip of the Vine

    • Luan Akin

      Luan Akin

      August 19, 2017 - 10:15 pm
      Reply

      If the plant looks healthy, the “tentacles” may simply be the way the vine attaches itself to help it grow upward. If the plant doesn’t look healthy, I’d urge you to bring a bagged sample into the diagnostic folks at Dick’s Corner (aisle 7 at Tagawa’s), and let them help.

      Thanks for reading the blog!

      My best,

      Luan Akin

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