Thursday, August 25, 2011

I am in need of a little design input…from you!

I was taking pictures of this vine at Cistus (and lusting over it) long before I knew what it was. Turns out it’s a Clematis, Clematis tibetana var. vernayi to be exact. Aren’t those flowers just amazing? I think it looks like it was made from a peeled lemon. Here’s the official plant description “It is hard to believe this strikingly architectural vine is a relative of the loved and maligned C. tangutica. Reaches to about 10 ft, with finely dissected leaves looking as if they have been cut from metal. From mid to late summer and into the fall, waxy, six-petalled, yellow flowers appear looking as if they have been cut from orange rind. These are followed by large, fluffy, white seed heads every bit as beautiful as the flowers. An easy grower in dappled shade to full sun. Drought tolerant once established. Frost hardy from 6F to near 0F, mid USDA zone 7 and below”

The foliage is even fabulous! So as luck would have it I was gifted this gorgeous little plant from Sean at Cistus, now I have to decide where to plant it. The plan was that once the house was painted I would plant a vine on the back wall, to help break up the big boring expanse (before it was painted, when it was white, I thought it looked like a movie screen). But what to have it climb on? That is the question! I’m leaning toward simple metal fence squares, usually sold as livestock fence. I’d rather use metal than wood, and rather have it stay silver toned than rust…but rust isn’t a deal breaker. Any creative ideas for material? My other questions are what shape to have the metal support be. Just a simple rectangle? Or get more creative? How to secure it to the house? Doesn’t it just look smashing climbing up the wall? (not to scale, of course) Here’s where you chime in! (please) Any design ideas? First had experience? I'd love to hear from you...


  1. that is one good looking plant.

  2. Well, Loree. Here are my two bits, for what it's worth. When looking at the full-on view of your house, the taller plants seem to be more towards the left of the area. Lower-growing plants are on the right. If it were me, I would go to Home Depot and get one of their [last time I was there] $8.00 hog panels and two 3/8 inch rebar. Wiring the rebar to the panel can be done after the rebar is pounded into the ground. I would place it to the right, behind the lower growing plants. I would find some kind of garden art wall plaque to mount to the opposite side of the house wall to balance it out. Actually I did something like this in my garden. The hog panel will rust if you don't spray paint it. I like rust but you might want to paint. Anyway, love the Clemmy. How nice of Sean to share it with you. It's going to look great against that dark wall.

  3. It's beautiful and really does look like a peeled lemon. I agree with Grace's suggestion for placement. I'd align the trellis with the path so that it offers a structural focal point as you walk back toward the house. I'd leave it silver so it will contrast with the house color. If/when it rusts you can always spray paint it then.

  4. That is one gnarly flower...kind of succulent! From this post & Pam/Digging's post, I would work off the paving squares at a 90 deg to house, and do some white wood posts...that would tie into the foliage as it appears in summer.

    But what will this look like in winter, with more gray skies. think about when you want the structure to shine most (when plants not as lush, clematis not so full).

  5. I too agree with Grace and Pam on the can seal the metal before you install it to slow down the rusting considerably.

  6. I love this plant! I got one last fall at Cistus and was so afraid it wasn't going to make it through seemed so spindly and delicate. It's a tough one, though and this year has grown at an amazing rate...and definitely grows more than 10'! I wish I had spent more time picking a trellis option...I was in a hurry and just wanted something to get it off the my solution is not stylish...maybe once it's more established, I'll cut it to the ground and put in a better climbing solution...I'm keeping an eye on what you come up with ;-)

  7. We use the heavy gage galvanized fence panels from Wilco farm store. We build a wood frame around them and sometimes paint the wire with an earthtone Rustoleum spray paint. Simple, inexpensive and a nice backdrop for the vine that will be the real show. Man, that is a pretty vine! Thanks for telling us about it!


  8. Amazing plant, I'll add it to the list. I want one! This year I've been taking a different approach with vines, and I've been really satisfied with the results. I've been tying a strong black rope in all sorts of designs and twisting the vine around it. My passion flower has grown at least 12 feet using this technique and is now branching off to create a bit of a spider web. I couldn't find any recent photos but uploaded one that shows what I mean earlier in the project. It's like drawing with vines, the possibilities are endless.

  9. tacky in tacomaAugust 25, 2011

    Huge frost proof ginger jar (fat in the middle tapering in at the top) in Little and Lewis blue (not cobalt) or fire engine red (or perhaps your signature chartreuse) filled with an odd number of timber bamboo poles painted to match the pot at eave height and lower. Each pole losely spiraled with copper wire for vine support. Add soil and under plant the clematis with black mondo grass. Fireworks!

  10. less tacky in tacomaAugust 25, 2011

    Italian terra cotta pot fitted with a metal or wood tuteur painted another lovely earth tone. Or no pot at all and just a painted tuteur. I've painted the rusty metal ones (fairly inexpensive.) but they require touch up each spring to stay vibrant.

  11. Hi Loree, that's a beautiful plant and one to be added on my wishlist!

    It's worth considering Stainless Steel Rope that is normally used for ballustrading, boats and yachting, etc. It comes in different gauges and diameter and there are loads of attachments available so you can even fix it to your wall with little drilling and can look like it's floating on the surface.

    Do a local search, there's bound to be loads online and near you too :)

  12. I think it should be the hog fencing, for sure; And it would look nice in the entire space between those two windows, even if the plant doesn't take up the entire space. The griddiness (a word?) would complement the griddiness of our lawn.

  13. Bianca, yes!

    Grace, love your two cents worth and it seems others agree with you!

    Pam, I like the path alignment/focal point idea. Unfortunately the hose bib and basement window (not focal points for sure!) are already there. Still I can work with the placement and get close!

    DD, uhm...winter, good reminder. A smart person would have fallen in love with an evergreen vine. And yes white would also go nicely with the house for thought indeed.

    Darla, rust would have the benefit of sort of disappearing against the house, but the metal would look good with my other metal bits (like the 11 stock tanks!).

    scott, that's right! I forgot you've got one. So how much sun did you plant yours in?

    Wyatt, you're most welcome. Wood frame huh...that could then be painted white...interesting.

    Nat, "It's like drawing with vines"...omg have you got my mind racing! Thanks for the picture too, that really helped. This sort of crazy (that's a compliment) idea was just what I was hoping to get a few of.

    tacky and less tacky, ah...I love them both. Of course you know that any project that involves another container for the garden is going to be a hit with me. Plus I was worried about hiding the vine down amongst the existing plants and not getting it enough sunshine to grow!

    Mark and Gaz,...Stainless Steel Rope! So I could combine this with Nat's idea. I do love me some Stainless Steel! I could also then "bend" the trellis over to where Pam and others had suggested it be, in the blank space above the window and hose bib...

    Everyone, these suggestions are all fabulous! My mind is working....

  14. Or if you can find a big old ladder at a garage sale, they make nifty vine supports, with a pot or two sitting on the rungs here and there. Vine support and plant stand in one.

    That Clem is cool but hopefully doesn't reseed like crazy.


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